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Artworks at work: the impacts of workplace art

Christina Smiraglia (Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 8 July 2014




This paper aims to explore the impact that employees and board members of an organization believe the art in their workplace has on their experience at work and identify the exhibition’s features salient to their experience of the art.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 affiliates of an Australian organization with an institutional art collection. The interview data were transcribed and analyzed using thematic analysis by two researchers, with a final inter-rater reliability of 0.96.


The results showed that respondents believe there are five main ways they are impacted by the art in their workplace: the art promotes social interactions, elicits emotional responses, facilitates personal connection-making, generally enhances the workplace environment and fosters learning. Participants indicated the salient features of the collection are its changing nature, creativity, diversity, quality and connection to the organization’s mission.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that there may be a number of positive impacts on employees and other affiliates when art is present in the workplace, including interpersonal learning and mission-related content learning. The findings suggest that art connected to the organization’s mission, rotating exhibitions and diverse collections are valued by workplace viewers.


The study highlights the importance of the aesthetic environment in the workplace and is one of the first to examine artworks in the work setting.



There are a number of people who have assisted with this study, and the author extends warm thanks to all of them: Michelle Green for her strong support of this project, Karin Morrison for her original vision and inspiration throughout, Anne Smith for her implementation assistance and contributions to the development of the research instrument and Sarah Zuckerman for her literature research and assistance with data analysis. The author recognizes and extends a special thank you to Shari Tishman, who guided the project from conception and reviewed this manuscript. The author is also grateful to everyone interviewed for generously sharing their insights, ideas and experiences. This work was supported by ISV.


Smiraglia, C. (2014), "Artworks at work: the impacts of workplace art", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 26 No. 5, pp. 284-295.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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