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Kenneth Rush, Jr., Late Afternoon, 1988

Kenneth Rush, Jr., Late Afternoon, 1988

Arts in Medicine – Art Collection

NYC Health + Hospitals curates the largest public art collection in New York City. We are committed to preserving more than 3,000 works of art and making them accessible to the public.

Ansel Adams, Moon and Clouds, North California, 1959. Photograph, 23″x 29″, North Central Bronx Hospital.

Art exhibits and installations in the main lobbies, waiting rooms, corridors, patient rooms, and other public spaces throughout NYC Health + Hospitals’ facilities have been made possible through a combination of donations, commissions, and support from New York City.

The history of the art collection dates back to the 1930s, when the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project hired artists to create works for government buildings. Over the years, New York City’s public health and hospital system commissioned 600 murals to adorn its facilities. Today, the organization recognizes the historic and cultural significance of these murals and works to preserve them.

In the 1970s, a panel of museum professionals known as the HHC Art Advisory Board helped the organization select and acquire more than 3,000 pieces of art. The board included directors from the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, El Museo del Barrio, and the Studio Music of Harlem. Under its guidance, HHC acquired works by prominent artists including photographs by Ansel Adams, prints by Andy Warhol, a mosaic by Helen Frankenthaler, and a wall collage by Romare Bearden.

David Margolis, Materials for Relaxation, 1939-41. Secco fresco, Bellevue Hospital Center.

In the 1980s, a new city law mandated one percent of city-funded construction budgets to be dedicated to the purchase of artwork for public buildings. HHC worked with the city’s Art Commission under the Mayor’s Office to select artwork to help create a therapeutic and welcoming environment for patients and staff.

In 2001, HHC was the first public agency to develop a digital database of its art collection.Today, NYC Health + Hospitals continues to preserve artwork and share its collection with the public through exhibitions in its facilities and partnerships with museums and galleries.