25 August 2009

art in hospitals

Over the past 15 months, we've been providing art management services to a group of hospitals to help them improve the experience of their patients. There is substantial literature describing the benefits of having art in hospitals, particularly with regard to facilitating a positive state of mind and accelerating the healing process.

Initially, our role was to audit and catalogue their art collection, and to improve the rotation and hanging of these works across the group of hospitals. We also developed a labelling protocol to provide more opportunities for patients, staff and visitors to interact with the artworks.

Lately, we've been working with artists in the communities around these hospitals to arrange temporary exhibitions of artworks. These exhibitions provide an ever-changing array of artworks to improve the experience of longer-term patients and staff, and also provide an alternative venue for artists to display their works (and hopefully sell some of them).

However, this post was actually triggered by the discovery of an article in the 20 October 1877 edition of the very important medical journal "The Lancet" entitled 'Art in Hospitals'. This article outlined the development (by a doctor) of a frame for artwork specifically designed to address the hygiene and safety issues particular to hospitals.

from "The Lancet", 20 October 1877
Interestingly (and not surprisingly), this concern for hygiene and safety remains valid for our work today. Whilst much of the artwork is hung in public spaces such as foyers and corridors, there are situations such as operating theatres and intensive care units where we need to take into consideration very particular requirements for the framing and cleaning of any artwork.
David West


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