The design of a hospital affects patients’ expectations. Artwork plays a big part in this well-being. More than just add-ons, artwork is integral to the overall plan of a hospital, in which good design supports both the medical and emotional needs of patients. 

Artwork reflects a hospital’s heritage, values, and brand. Yet many healthcare providers may not necessarily know how to approach an art program. That’s why an internal art advisory committee can prove useful. 

Comprised of hospital leadership, facility manager, art consultant, interior designer, and perhaps a community member, the committee is responsible for reviewing and selecting all art. The group makes a wish list of art; assesses appropriateness based size, scale, subject matter, and quality; and manages funding and purchase. 

By having a plan in place with set criteria, the hospital is able to handle monetary donations efficiently and purchase appropriate art. 

Here are five areas an art advisory committee oversees: 

Display of art

The committee determines where the art will be displayed—in common spaces, lobbies, patient rooms, nurses’ stations, or even a specialized gallery. The committee manages the replacement, maintenance, and rotation of artwork so that the art remains fresh. 


The group considers the aesthetics of art, whether it’s painting, sculpture, ceramics, mural, or other medium. For instance, a committee may wish to support commissioned work by regional or local artists. This is a great way to integrate regional influences into the hospital environment. Other hospitals may look toward national artists or reproductions.  


All decorative material should be respectful of other belief systems, cultural backgrounds, gender, and age. In personal workstations, in particular, staff should be mindful of over-abundance of displayed items. 


All decorative material should be flame-retardant and noncombustible—which means no Styrofoam, cotton batting, straw, dry vines, trees (natural), electrical or battery-operated decorations, or lighted candles. For safety reasons, exits, fire-alarm sending stations, hose cabinets, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler heads should be kept free of art. 

Holiday decorations

Holiday decorations must consider the multicultural demographics of a particular hospital and reinforce the professional standards patients expect. This means being respectful of other faiths and recognizing patients often observe different holidays throughout the year.