​senior​ living is different than it used to be—is your facility ​ready?


​Today’s seniors expect to continue enjoying full and rich lives well beyond retirement age. Assisted living facilities and extended stay family homes aren’t the end of the road for this dynamic group of aging ​elders.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, all Baby Boomers will be part of the older population by 2030 (http://www.aplaceformom.com). This population shift is affecting the senior-living model. Traditional aesthetics are being retooled. Exercise rooms with pneumatic lifting machines and cafes serving lattes and sandwiches are replacing bingo halls and institutional cafeterias. Zumba classes, power yoga, educational opportunities — a variety of enriching activities will be  the norm.


​The new seniors want quality — beautiful environments with thoughtfully designed interiors integrated by art. A recent study shows that people react to original art, in particular, because they link the art back to the original artist’s eyes and hands. They are moved because they understand that the original is what the artist has “poured his heart and soul into.”

Local art has extra meaning for the aging population. Familiar scenes from their community connect seniors with their lives, friends and families. Regionally sourced art can establish a sense of place and continued belonging.


​Nancy Witherell Art’s consulting practice is focused primarily on healing and living environments, which means your facility benefits from the hands-on experience we’ve had in dozens of other facilities. Part of our job is to keep up-to-date on evidence-based art approaches and emerging art trends so you can rest easy knowing you have an effective visual arts plan.

Our individualized, consultative approach takes into consideration the services of a facility and the emotional needs of the people who use it, as well as how it integrates with local community and culture.



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.