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William Palmer, Function of a Hospital, 1934

Art Collection

NYC Health + Hospitals is committed to preserving more than 7,000 works of art and making them accessible to the public.

Integral to the healing environment, the artwork appears throughout NYC Health + Hospitals’ 11 acute care hospitals, five nursing homes, six diagnostic and treatment centers, and more than 70 community-based primary care sites. Art represents the cultural values and identity that make up the NYC Health + Hospitals community. The art collection also reflects a commitment to supporting the international and local arts communities, as well as fostering an environment that encourages engagement and dialogue with diverse voices.

The art collection aims to create a calming atmosphere for patients and their families and supportive, healing places for staff.  The selection of images highlights the diverse points of view represented in the collection, from site-specific commissions to new acquisitions. 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 acquisitions, donations, commissions, and support from New York City.

The program’s diverse portfolio of works includes paintings, photographs, sculptures, installation art, and murals, by both emerging and established professional artists. In addition to the collection, curated exhibitions of a variety of artworks are hosted throughout the city.


The NYC Health + Hospitals 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 care system commissioned many murals to adorn its facilities.

  • 1970s -NYC Health + Hospitals leadership identified the need to build a contemporary and cohesive art collection, with a focus on enhancing patient and caregiver experience. A panel of museum and creative professionals were consulted to accession several thousand works of art. The art advisory board included directors from the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, El Museo del Barrio, and the Studio Music of Harlem.
  • 1980s – a new city law mandated one percent of city-funded construction budgets to be dedicated to the purchase of artwork for public buildings. NYC Health + Hospitals worked with the Mayor’s Office and the City’s Art Commission to select artwork to help create a therapeutic and welcoming environment for patients and staff, a practice embedded in the Arts in Medicine mission today.
  • 2001 – NYC Health + Hospitals became the first public agency to develop a digital database for the art collection. Today, the health system continues to preserve artwork and share the collection through public exhibitions in its facilities and partnerships with museums and galleries.
  • Today – NYC Health + Hospitals continues its legacy of adding healing walls through the Arts in Medicine Community Mural Project, in which artists collaborate with staff, patients, families and community members.

More information about the program can be found in the newly released book, generously supported by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Healing Walls, documenting our public murals created from 2019-2021.

Community Mural

Continuing the tradition established in the 1930s the Work Progress Administration supported hundreds of murals across New York City’s public hospitals, community murals leverage artists and local community members to re-imagine hospitals and promote greater neighborhood wellness. Mural artists will engage with patients, staff, and local residents to create an integrated internal or external mural at selected NYC Health + Hospitals facilities, developing cultural ties between artists, patients, staff, and local residents.

Exhibition Program

Visual art contributes to healing environments. In healthcare settings, exhibitions provide an additional avenue to support the healthcare experience.  In addition to creating greater access to a visual collection, they often highlight the work of Licensed Clinical Art Therapists [LCAT’s] and their patients and can promote the strategic priorities of the health system.

At NYC Health + Hospitals our exhibitions showcase art that reflects the voices and experiences of the people and communities we serve and often intermix both art from the permanent collection and patient and staff works as well. They also provide an opportunity to support New York City based artists. Exhibitions bring together works on loan from artists, collectors, or other institutions, that explore new ideas, the human condition, our global world, and popular culture.

Current Exhibitions on view:

NOURISH, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Opened 4 October 2023

Creating Within: Art from Rikers and the NYC Health + Hospitals Art Collection, NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull, Opened 5 December 2023-November 2024  NYC Health + Hospitals Presents First-Ever Exhibition to Showcase Art from Both Rikers Island and Its Own Collection

Arts in Medicine Mobile App

Find us on Bloomberg Connects; download the free app below.  Patients, staff, and the community can learn more about the history and content of the Arts in Medicine Collection and our Programs at NYC Health + Hospitals.