the right art in your hospital makes all the difference to your patients, staff and community 


Why is art important to the healthcare field? Why do hospitals and care facilities need to plan for permanent displays of art? What are the real benefits to patients, doctors and hospitals?

The answers to these questions are beginning to coalesce around some very compelling research in this growing field. Recent studies show that art in a healthcare setting contributes many direct benefits for all — patients, doctors, nurses, staff.


Well-chosen art in healthcare environments — hospitals, outpatient care facilities, diagnostic centers — can have a profoundly positive impact. Studies reveal marked reduction in staff turnover, dramatic impact on economic outcomes, and improvement in the overall wellness for medical professionals. More specifically, a properly implemented art and design program leads to marked improvements in patient outcomes:

  • less stress, fear and anxiety
  • decreased need for medication
  • less pain
  • improved vital signs
  • shorter overall length of stay
  • quicker surgical recovery time


It’s clear that the trend toward patient-centric hospital design is gaining traction in forward-thinking healthcare facilities. More dollars are being budgeted toward art for new hospital construction. Nancy Witherell Art (NWA) believes budgets for permanent displays of art will become a standard requirement for all new construction. Perhaps more importantly, we see art becoming integral to healthcare organizations that must improve operational performance. They must look for ways to increase positive patient outcomes while driving savings to the bottom line and therefore must restructure their operations around a humanistic approach to patient care.


NWA’s art consulting practice has grown by carefully understanding users’ needs. We listen to administrators and chief executives who hope to improve medical and quality-of-life outcomes, leading to healthier patients and right-length stays. We also understand chief medical officers who desire to create a nurturing environment for doctors, nurses, staff, patients and families, all of whom are seeking quality care, comfort, safety, and healing. By meeting the needs of as many stakeholders as possible, we create an environment that is good for everyone.



Our approach to getting consensus from stakeholders when selecting art is collaborative from beginning to end. We pursue imaginative ideas that are co-created with designers and stakeholders alike. The creative process involves receiving input for what works and what doesn’t. From there we modify selections and prepare alternatives. Through this back and forth process of open communication, we create the vision of all stakeholders in a collaborative way that supports the success of the project.


We like to begin by sitting down with the stakeholders. We take time to understand what your vision is for the building. Knowing the stakeholders’ hopes, needs and priorities for each space makes us better equipped to meet expectations and envision solutions.

We consider the interior designs and aim to capture that inspiration. The whole environment must function well together. We do our part to ensure that by offering art selections that promote a positive distraction and enhance the surroundings. We keep our focus on meeting the needs of all who are involved, while maintaining artistic integrity.

Next, we identify artists who may be able to successfully meet these needs. We offer the group’s vision via slide shows. This begins an interactive process with the designers and stakeholders that only ends when everyone is in agreement and feels genuine pride in the installation.


From our experience, it works best to start with the Wow! spaces. These are the focal points of the facility that present the greatest opportunity for artful impact. With those highly visible pieces decided, we move on to the key rooms and from there work toward tying together the remainder of the facility.

Our goal is to source artwork that is complementary to the zones and regions of a building. We take into consideration the intended look and feel, as well as what types of activities or services take place there. It is vital that the artwork in these areas be reflective of and responsive to the people who will interact with the space.


NWA’s successful strategy for consistently staying within budget involves backing in to the costs. We start at the end costs, such as installation and framing, and back in to the cost for the artwork itself. This eliminates unexpected restrictions when choosing the best art with the highest value for the project.

Keeping within budget begins with thorough and detailed upfront planning. We lay out all costs from the start, including not just art but also transportation, storage and installation. We factor in unanticipated expenses. Project budgets are set up and carefully tracked throughout the life of the project.

Making use of the latest project management software, we establish timelines, communicate changes and keep control of the schedule. Like with budgeting, we back in to our schedule, first targeting deadlines and then mapping out the time necessary for each step of the project.


Our firm takes an adaptive, flexible and responsive approach to meeting deadlines. We do whatever we must to ensure we complete our project on time. Any necessary adjustments are promptly and clearly communicated to the client.

A major reason for our success staying on schedule and within budget comes from our open communication. Our strong team is cohesive and mutually supportive and built on a solid foundation of integrity. This gives us the flexibility necessary to handle the unexpected without disruption.

Regular communication with architects, construction crews, installers, the interior design team, stakeholders and anyone else related to getting the project done on time and within budget is an ongoing priority.


NWA handles all aspects of art purchases, including artist contracts, tax, shipping and delivery. Detailed quotes of chosen art with a breakout of sizes, materials and itemized costs are provided for client reference and project manager sign-off. Once all the details are handled, the specific art is collected and commissioned pieces are created by artists.

We take care of the entire installation process, from shipping, delivery and receipt of art to framing and installing art pieces. Our general and professional liability insurance coverage keeps us accountable for the full installation process. All artwork installations include attribution signage and adhere to recommended and required guidelines for framing, mounting and installation.