Judy Rollins (Georgetown University, USA)

‘Purpose-built’ Art in Hospitals: Art with Intent

ISBN: 978-1-83909-681-5, eISBN: 978-1-83909-680-8

Publication date: 18 May 2021


Rollins, J. (2021), "Prelims", ‘Purpose-built’ Art in Hospitals: Art with Intent, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. i-xvii.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021 Judy Rollins

Half Title Page

‘Purpose-built’ Art in Hospitals

Title Page

‘Purpose-built’ Art in Hospitals: Art with Intent

Judy Rollins

Georgetown University, USA

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

Copyright Page

Emerald Publishing Limited

Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK

First edition 2021

© 2021 Judy Rollins. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited

Reprints and permissions service


No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. Any opinions expressed in the chapters are those of the authors. Whilst Emerald makes every effort to ensure the quality and accuracy of its content, Emerald makes no representation implied or otherwise, as to the chapters’ suitability and application and disclaims any warranties, express or implied, to their use.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-83909-681-5 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-83909-680-8 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-83909-682-2 (Epub)


To Mike, my amazing husband, for his endless patience, love, and support


List of Figures ix
Biography xiii
Preface xv
Acknowledgments xvii
Introduction 1
Chapter 1 The Hospital Experience 17
Chapter 2 Art for Soothing and Comforting 29
Chapter 3 Art for Transcendence 41
Chapter 4 Art for Empathy 53
Chapter 5 Art for Inspiration and Hope 63
Chapter 6 Art for Spirituality 73
Chapter 7 Art for Joy 83
Chapter 8 Art for Interaction 91
Chapter 9 Art for Identity 101
Chapter 10 Art for Messaging 111
Chapter 11 Art for Wayfinding 119
Chapter 12 Art to Build Community 129
Chapter 13 Art to Build Relationships 139
Chapter 14 Art for Dialogue 151
Chapter 15 Art for Remembrance 161
Chapter 16 Art for Museum Encounters 169
Chapter 17 Transforming the Hospital Experience through Art 181
Chapter 18 Conclusions and Looking Forward 199
References 205
Index 229

List of Figures

Fig. 2.1 Ella Doran, Bedside Views, Children’s Ward, The Royal London Hospital, London, England, UK. Photo Credit Louise Melchior. 37
Fig. 2.2 Michael Green, Bear Cubs, Dunlevie Family Garden, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, CA, USA. Photo Credit Barry Fleisher. Courtesy of Stanford Children’s Health. 39
Fig. 3.1 Vara Kamin, Touching Petals © Vara Kamin, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, PA, USA. Vara Kamin’s Impressions of Light®, Minneapolis, MN, USA. Photo Credit Judy Rollins. 48
Fig. 3.2 Lauren Kingsland, Treatment, from The Healing Journey. Photo Credit Megan Allen-Kingsland. 51
Fig. 4.1 Lori Anne Boocks, Untitled No. 11. Photo Credit Michael Rollins. 56
Fig. 4.2 Terry Sitz, Of Chickens & Fireflies (Believer). Photo Credit Michael Rollins. 57
Fig. 4.3 Joan Drescher, Not Feeling Well, from Symbols of Courage Murals, The Floating Hospital for Children, Boston, MA, USA. Photo Credit Joan Drescher. 59
Fig. 4.4 Julie Nord, Murals for Barnescenteret, Akershu Univeristetssykehus, Oslo, Norway. Photo Credit Julie Nord. 60
Fig. 5.1 David Mach, Elevator, Charing Cross Hospital, London, England, UK. Photo Credit Judy Rollins. 67
Fig. 5.2 Morgan Kulesza, Finn, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC, USA. Photo Credit Morgan Kulesza. 68
Fig. 5.3 Maurice Blik, Second Breath, University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, Lexington, KY, USA. Photo Credit Lee P. Thomas Photography, Inc, Courtesy of the University of Kentucky Arts in HealthCare Program. 70
Fig. 6.1 Bertel Thorwaldsen (Replica by Stein), Christus Consolator (The Divine Healer), The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD, USA. Photo Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 78
Fig. 6.2 Dale Chihuly, Glass on Glass, Chihuly Sanctuary, Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA. © 2020 Chihuly Studio/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. 81
Fig. 7.1 Jill Stanton, Purple City, University of Alberta Hospital, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Photo Credit Mathew Martin. 87
Fig. 7.2 Studio Weave, The Lullaby Factory, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, England, UK. Photo Courtesy of Studio Weave. 89
Fig. 8.1 Adriene Garcia, Interactive Musical Planetarium © ADLC/Seesaw 2015, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Baltimore, MD, USA. Photo Courtesy of Art dans la Cité. 94
Fig. 8.2 Projection Mapping, Aichi Children’s Health and Medical Center, Achi Prefecture, Japan. Photo Courtesy of Aichi Children’s Health and Medical Center. 98
Fig. 9.1 Jessica Desmoulin, Day Raven, University of Alberta Hospital, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Photo Credit Judy Rollins. 106
Fig. 9.2 Nancy Blum, Revival, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, San Francisco, CA, USA. Revival is comprised of five sets of art glass windows for San Francisco General Hospital’s new acute care unit. These windows contain images of wildflowers indigenous to Northern California that are used for their medicinal properties. The banks of windows cover 100 feet of linearspace (by 7 feet in height). Each panel was enameled and sandblasted with multiple firings by Lenehan Architectural Glass, Oakland, CA and was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission. Installed 2015. Fabrication Art Glass: Dorothy Lenehan, Lenehan Architectural Glass, Emeryville, CA. Photo Credit Bruce Damonte. 109
Fig. 10.1 Jonathan Darmon, Joie de Vivre, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Atlantic City, NJ, USA. Photo Courtesy of Aesthetics, Inc. 114
Fig. 10.2 Quentin Blake, Girl Feeding Birds, From Ordinary Life in Vincent Square, Vincent Square Clinic, London, England, UK. Photo Courtesy of United Agents on Behalf of Quentin Blake. 117
Fig. 11.1 Donald Gialanella, Toy Cow, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, CA, USA. Photo Credit Donald Gialanella. 126
Fig. 12.1 Christopher Meyer, Assembly, Dakota Hospital, Vermillion, SD, USA. Photo Credit Ari Albright. 134
Fig. 12.2 Ane Mette Ruge, Karyatider (Caryatids), Sygehus Sonderjylland, Region South, Jutland, Denmark. The Caryatid Project at the Regional Hospital in the South of Jutland was completed in 2015. The title of the work refers to the classic caryatid, a figure serving as an architectural support. the project is the result of a commission by The Danish Arts Council and the Danish Southern Region to provide artwork for three areas of the new somatic and psychiatric hospitals in the region. Ruge: “I chose to work with the Caryatid motive in order to involve the users of the hospital and to make a metaphoric statement about co-ownership: that in our democracy we are all owners and carriers of our institutions. (Or put in another way: taxpayers are pillars of society.)” Photo Credit Dorte Krogh. 136
Fig. 13.1 Brad Necyk, Mania, University of Alberta Hospital Psychiatric Outpatient Unit, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Photo Credit Brad Necyk. 148
Fig. 14.1 How Art Works System Map, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC, USA. 152
Fig. 14.2 Damien Hirst, The Miraculous Journey, Sidar Medical and Research Center, Qatar. 2005–2013 © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved/DACS, London/ARS, NY 2020. Photo Courtesy of Sidar Medical and Research Center. 156
Fig. 15.1 Christopher Webb, Stained-glass Panels from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, University College London Hospital, London, England, UK. Photo Credit Judy Rollins. 164
Fig. 15.2 Maurice Blik, SplishSplash, Monroe Carel, Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA. Photo Credit Maurice Blik. 166
Fig. 17.1 Temporary 443-bed COVID-19 Field Hospital in Washington, DC Convention Center. Photo Credit FEMA/Amanda Hancher. 194
Cover Photo A View in a pod at the Temporary COVID-19 Field Hospital in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. Photo Courtesy of Events DC. 194


Dr Judy Rollins, President of Rollins & Associates Research and Consulting, brings nearly 40-years-experience in arts in healthcare. She is a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in the Visual Arts, a Master of Science in Child Development and Family Studies, and a PhD in Health and Community Studies. She is an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine with a secondary appointment in the Department of Pediatrics at Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. She is also an adjunct Lecturer at the Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, where she teaches research and evaluation in the Center’s graduate program.

She has developed arts in health care programming in hospitals, hospice care, military settings, and the community. In 2011, she was among the first group of recipients of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare’s Distinguished Fellow designation. She serves as an Ambassador for the National Organization for Arts in Health.

Author of over 100 publications, she is an Editor for Pediatric Nursing and North America Regional Editor for the Arts & Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice. A two-time winner of the American Journal of Nursing book of the year award, she also is the recipient of the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care Research Award, Johnson & Johnson/Society for the Arts in Healthcare Partnership to Promote Arts and Healing Award, National Science Foundation Scholarship, The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership Travel Award, and Georgetown University’s Mary M. Hoobler Distinguished Service Award.

In 2016, she was appointed a Scholar at The Institute for Integrative Health, Baltimore, MD, which supported her international research on artwork in hospitals. She consults, writes, and researches on health care issues nationally and internationally, with a special interest in arts-informed research.


Over the past three decades, guidance for the selection of hospital art has suggested realistic art that depicts soothing and comforting images such as tranquil waters, green vegetation, flowers, open spaces, and compassionate faces (Ulrich, 2009). Based on these findings, those who select or commission art for hospitals have been cautioned to avoid art with uncertain meaning or risk upsetting viewers already in a stressful state. However, some hospitals exhibit ambiguous or abstract art and cite anecdotal evidence of its appropriateness for health care settings (Lankston, Cusack, Fremantle, & Isles, 2010; Rollins, 2011; Stenslund, 2017).

Visiting hospitals nationally and internationally, I saw contemporary art that didn’t conform to the concept of soothing and comforting. I viewed huge abstract paintings filled with color and excitement, and soaring abstract sculptures from well-known artists. According to the principles of evidenced-based art, ambiguous images were to be avoided, yet none of this art seemed out of place. I was left with some questions. If this art that I see in hospitals doesn’t sooth and comfort, why is it there? What other purposes might it serve?

About this time, Dr Upali Nanda, now Associate Professor of Practice in Architecture, University of Michigan, and Director of Research, HKS, a global architectural firm in Houston, TX, was Guest Editor for a special issue of HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal. In the past, we had discussed my interest in the use of abstract and other challenging types of art in hospitals, and she invited me to submit a manuscript on the topic. The writing of the article “Arousing Curiosity: When Hospital Art Transcends” was a wonderful thinking experience for me, which led to a yearning to learn more.

Eager to find some answers, I began an informal search in the United Kingdom in 2012. With the kind networking assistance of Anne Avidon, Head of Global Health Innovation at UK Trade & Investment Life Sciences Organisation, I went to London and interviewed eight individuals who select or commission art for hospitals in England, and toured five hospitals in London. Additionally, I attended Quinton Blake’s “Larger than Life” exhibition at The Foundling Museum, a collection of giclée prints created for specific hospital situations in England and France. British art historian Richard Cork, whose book The Healing Presence of Art: A History of Western Art in Hospitals was about to be released, graciously granted me an interview in which he shared his insights about the purpose of art in hospitals. This 10-day experience highlighted for me the variety of opinions on the topic, and that the study of art in hospitals required an international lens.

In 2016, Dr Brian Berman and Susan Berman of The Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore, MD, invited me to become a Scholar. As a Scholar, I had the amazing opportunity to conduct this international qualitative study that explored artwork in hospitals throughout the world through the dual lens of an artist and a health care professional. Through this research I discovered many purposes of artwork in hospital settings – ways individuals in hospitals can and actually do use artwork – beyond to sooth and comfort. Although some artwork selected to fulfill a purpose may already exist, much of the art is commissioned, thus the term ‘purpose-built’ art.

Recent research has gone beyond anecdotal evidence in support of abstract and more challenging art in hospitals. Findings from a study by Danish researchers indicated that the ambiguity of meaning in abstract compositions can have positive effects, facilitating patients’ memories, thoughts, and feelings, addressed as experiential domains of well-being (Nielsen & Mullins, 2017).

An abundance of theories and research support the use of soothing and comforting images, especially nature (beginning with Ulrich in 1984). There is an emergent need to find and develop rationales and theories to support the use of artwork with other purposes as well. It is hoped that ‘Purpose-built’ Art in Hospitals: Art with Intent can begin to fill this evidence gap, generate additional research, and encourage more variety in art offerings to better serve the many diverse needs of patients, families, visitors, and staff within the hospital environment.

Judy Rollins

May, 2021


There are so many people who made this book possible. I begin by thanking Brian and Sue Berman of The Institute for Integrative Health who believed in the importance of taking a closer look at how art is used in hospitals and supported my work.

Research assistants Jacob Brown and Christine Rollins did a deep dive into the literature and presented a comprehensive review that guided my work, for which I am most grateful.

To all of the people throughout the world who so generously gave of their time to speak with me, answer my many questions, provide tours of art collections, and assist with tracking down photographs and permissions. I am very grateful. Thanks to all of you, I learned so much.

And a thank you to Ben Doyle, formerly with Emerald Publishing, who contacted me, decided that my book could fill a gap in the area of arts in health, and offered me a contract.

Thank you also to everyone on the Emerald Publishing team, especially Paula Kennedy, Publisher, whose understanding of the impact of the world’s troublesome events occurring at the time of this writing was so important and much appreciated.

And finally, I offer my deep appreciation to my husband Mike for tirelessly providing hours of technical support and looking out for my well-being. Thank you for always being there for me.