A hand painting on canvas

Hospitals have begun recognizing the advantages of art in hospitals.

Their partnerships with art organizations that promote the use of art in hospitals, have helped hospitals fill their rooms and halls with color and creativity.

Some hospitals have even incorporated their own permanent art programs which have colored the walls and ceilings of their facilities.

When visitors and patients roam the hospitals' halls, they are greeted by art from professional artists as well as patients' art.

In hospital programs, patients can benefit from art activities that include painting tiles or roof ceilings, listening to music and stories, painting canvases, making mobiles and participating in many other activities.

Arts in Medicine

The Arts in Medicine (AIM) program at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, was co-created in 1990 by John Graham-Pole, M.D. and Mary Rockwood Lane, Ph.D. R.N.

AIM's goal is to connect health care givers, artists, patients, their families, students and the whole community and bring the arts into the mainstream of restoring bodily, mental and spiritual health

AIM is committed to using the arts to improve the hospital setting from a sterile and impersonal setting to one of "color and inspiration."

The program has become so successful that it has served as a model for other fledgling hospital art programs. What began with an idea to do idea research on art and medicine turned into a program.

The program began in the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) unit in 1993 with one artist. The program's purpose at that time was to reduce morbidity, improve recovery time, and mood and behavior of the children in the BMT. But this was with the intention of achieving a more cost-effective health care delivery. One artist grew into more throughout the years.

Today AIM hosts many artists in residence who help patients explore their creative side. These artists include poets, painters, dancers, storytellers and musicians.

Examples of some of the AIM art include...

  • A Healing Wall- A wall made of painted tiles created by patients, artists and families. The tiles have qoutes and inspirational thoughts that express the feelings of patients and families.
  • Healing ceilings- Sections of ceiling have lively scenes drawn on them. Patients are in bed for long periods and the painted celing are uplifting.
  • Storytelling- AIM storytellers visit children and adult patients and bring them stories and activities such as face painting, origami and braiding bracelets.
  • A Friendly forest- This "forest," created by Gainesville artist Rob Ponzio and Shands pediatric patients, is in the pediatric clinic. The forest is a mural with a pond in the center, patients' favorite animals and drawings of actual patients.

  • Art for Healing

    In Stanford, California, there is the Art for Healing Program at Stanford Hospital. The program is one of the many programs run by cancer survivor and artist Wendy Traber.

    When Traber was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in 1982, she began using art as an outlet to express herself and as a therapy. In a Stanford article, Traber explained how she used art as her therapy.

    "I felt so bad, emotionally and physically," Traber said. "Out of desperation, I turned to my art materials and began to draw. I felt I was losing my mind as well as my body."

    In her art she used charcoal and newsprint to express her fear.

    The program does not produce art for gallery displays but instead uses art to help sick people get a sense of control when they feel powerless and debilated.

    "Art helps us embrace who we are and what we're going through ­ our humanness."- Traber

    Traber's program focuses on going to patients' bed sides and helping them depict their illnesses in visual images. A collection of patients' images of their diseases is displayed on the first floor of the hospital in a permanent rotating exhibit.

    Lombardi Cancer Center Arts and Humanities Program

    Georgetown University's arts and medicine program is part of the Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington D.C.

    The Lombardi Cancer Center Arts and Humanities Program provides music, writing, dance, visual arts and drama for individuals to create a "life affirming response to illness."

    The program, which also is part of the Lombardi Program to Enhance Quality of Life, is designed topromote and increase the awareness of alternative approaches for the treatment and support of cancer patients and their caregivers. The program maximizes quality of life for cancer patients and family members by providing art activities and creative environments that encourage constructive responses to illness.

    Examples of the Program's Art include...