Hospitals around the world are incorporating art in their design to add a personal dimension to otherwise bleak and often dismal corridors. From beautifully painted murals to collages made up of a variety of materials, the artwork found in today’s hospitals is comparable to what one may find in a museum.
The most intricate of designs have been created using glass tiles, stone, fiberglass etc. It has been noted that art can reduce stress and distract patients from their pain (Ulrich, 1991). There are a few hospitals in particular that have truly gone the extra effort in providing patients with art to ease their pain.
The University of Michigan Hospital has 14 “Tile Quilts” – 8 x 10 feet murals created entirely with tiles of various shapes, sizes and colors. Glass tiles serve as the border. The murals are strategically placed, so that those patients on a wheelchair-bound floor have the perfect eye-level view. Not only can patients lose themselves and their pain as they gaze at these stunning masterpieces, but they can also have a sensory experience, allowing their hands to glide over the glass tiles and feel the cold, sleek surface with indentions by the grout. The most impressive part is that no fancy materials were used to create such intricate art.
Simple backsplash/bathroom glass tiles were used to enhance above and beyond the norm. In the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood, Paul Housberg has graced the lobby with his breathtaking “Water Walk” which is comprised of close to 1,000 hand blown glass tiles in brilliant shades of blue. The choice of blue was based on the location of the hospital (waterfront) and the healing capacity found in water. People from all over the world come to view Housberg’s breath-taking creations.
John Hopkin’s Hospital is now featuring its very own art gallery for patients and their visitors to enjoy. It is also focused on providing not only a visual but a sensory experience as well. The art gallery features over 500 art works from over 70 artists. Inspiration was taken from children’s literature and nature. Spencer Finch of Brooklyn, NY is the artist responsible for the “Curtain Wall” which features 26 shades of glass tile curtaining the two hospital towers for children and adults. The Curtain Wall sparkles in the rays of the sun and alters in color from day to day as the weather changes.
There are many programs that are becoming more and more popular in promoting art in hospitals. As more research studies are carried out, the importance of art with regards to health and overall well-being is undeniable. A simple glass tile backsplash in a patient’s bathroom can be turned into a healing masterpiece when the funding is available.
As we have seen in the few examples above, patients and visitors alike are more at ease in beautified surroundings and it is well worth the investment.