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Support for the Collection

Philanthropy plays an essential role in helping to support ongoing efforts to care and create greater access for the collection. Support for the collection means support for our patients, families, and caregivers that are a part of the landscape of New York City Health+ Hospitals

Introduction to the Art Collection at NYC Health + Hospitals

For many years, art has been an integral part of NYC Health + Hospitals, providing an aesthetically pleasing environment for patients and staff and contributing to the wellbeing of our community. The health system’s extensive collection of more than 5,000 works dates back to the 1930s when the Works Progress Administration commissioned several foundational works by Charles Davis, Charles Alston, William Palmer, David Margolis, Abram Champanier, and Georgette Seabrooke. As a result of the City’s Percent for Art Mandate of 1965 and the Percent for Art Law of 1982, the collection continued to grow with works by Helen Frankenthaler, Alfred Jensen, Philip Guston, Moses Sawyer, Sol Lewitt, Will Barnett, Jacob Lawrence, Keith Haring, and Romare Bearden added to the collection.

Since this time, however, several pieces have fallen into disrepair. Due in particular to their placement in busy healthcare settings, these artworks have undergone varying degrees of degeneration. Some have suffered acute damage like graffiti and harm due to neglect, while others have gradually faded, accumulated dust, and faced regular wear-and-tear.

Using the art from our collection, patients, staff, and community members will be able to participate in programs and activities that improve clinical outcomes, support emotional well-being, and foster effective observation and communication. In order to maximize the benefit of these innovative programs, we have developed a strategic program to steward and maintain the art collection by focusing on management, conservation, exhibition, education, and interpreting.

Why Restore Our Art?

It helps improve the hospital experience

Art is more than decoration. It plays an essential role in the healing process and offers a stimulating environment for patients, families, staff, and visitors. There is growing evidence to support that incorporating visual art into hospital environments improves both patient experience and health outcomes. Art in the clinical environment has been found to have a positive effect on the morale of patients, and patients exposed to art have tended to have lower levels of depression and anxiety than those in plain environments. Positive patient experiences of art in the healthcare environment have also been statistically predictive of higher hospital recommendation rates.

Art helps our staff and system’s financial sustainability

Just like it helps patients, art in the healthcare setting has been shown to improve staff morale and mental wellbeing. Surveys also report that the presence of art in the work environment plays an active role in attracting and retaining staff. Through its influence on staff retention and patient health outcomes, art leads to cost saving throughout the hospital system.

Art preserves our history

Art represents cultural values and identity. It helps preserve the diverse demographics and cultures that make up the Health + Hospitals community. Art educates and helps us understand our individual and shared history. Art is an historical record by documenting events and offers an opportunity to connect and share an experience.

EXHIBITION: Display in exhibitions for the public and clients, hanging works in patient and staff work areas

CONSERVATION: Maintenance, upkeep, and restoration to ensure health of the artworks

EDUCATION/ INTERPRETATION: Audio guides, public programs, labels, online explanations and brochures  

COLLECTION MANAGEMENT: Inventory, condition reporting, location tracking

The Role of the Collection

HHArt of Medicine Observation Program

Research has revealed that medical students actually lose empathy and observation skills as they advance in their medical training. Art observation training can be used to counteract this decline. Based on models used successfully in other health systems, we are using the works in our collection to lead observational training sessions and extended programs for both clinical and non-clinical staff. These trainings have been shown to improve empathy, communication with patients and team members, and visual acuity in diagnosis.

Rotating Art Exhibitions

Thematic exhibitions of works in the collection for public display; rehanging of works in appropriate places across NYC Health + Hospitals venues including patient rooms, public corridors, lobbies and offices; explanatory panels and identifying labels posted.


Public programs, self-guided audio and multi-media tours (both didactic and interactive) for smartphones, internet explanations, all offered to the community of Health + Hospitals.


In response to the deterioration of several important works of art, NYC Health + Hospitals was charged with the maintenance and restoration of the collection. In 2018, NYC Health + Hospitals conducted a visual inspection for the first time in over 20 years that revealed 724 artworks in poor condition due to such factors as water leakage, direct exposure to damaging sunlight, and poor handling. In one notable example, a site-specific ceramic mural by American abstract expressionist artist Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) is covered with dirt, duct tape residue, cracked tiles, graffiti, and food stains.

Health + Hospitals staff members are not experts in art conservation. Trained professionals are required to both guide and perform needed life-saving work. Financially, each individual NYC Health + Hospitals facility has fiscal responsibility for any restoration or conservation; since art conservation costs are usually outweighed by health services needs, Health + Hospitals will not be able to carry out this important critical work without external support.

How You Can Help

Concealed from the public for decades, the art can now be easily accessible, with your help, to over 1.2 million diverse patients who walk through its facilities each year.

To help safeguard and ensure the health of the collection, you can “adopt” a specific work of art, specify a NYC Health + Hospitals location in one of the five boroughs, or contribute to the general fund for the collection preservation and maintenance.

On the following pages you can find information about the various works that you may help to restore.

There are many ways to support Arts in Medicine’s visual collection;

  • Collection management; supports ongoing conservation efforts, condition reporting, and overall care
  • Education and outreach
  • Supporting acquisitions; bringing in new voices and pieces that reflect the diversity of our patients and caregivers
  • Donating work
  • Exhibitions and Events

Naming and recognition opportunities available.

If you are interested in supporting the collection please contact:
Larissa W. Trinder, MPA, Assistant Vice President, Arts in Medicine trinderl@nychhc.org

NYC Health + Hospitals is a 501(c)(3) entity with a federal tax identification number of 13-2655001. A contribution will not affect any business dealings with the City or provide special access to City officials.