Paintings in Hospitals

Paintings in Hospitals is an arts in health charity in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1959[1], the charity's services include the provision of artwork loans, art projects and creative workshops to health and social care organisations. The charity's activities are based on clinical evidence showing broad benefits of the arts to patients and carers.[2][3]

Paintings in Hospitals
Current Paintings in Hospitals logos, used since 2011
FounderSheridan Russell
Founded atNational Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery
TypeCharitable organisation
HeadquartersBorough, London
England and Wales, Northern Ireland

The charity owns and manages the Paintings in Hospitals collection: a loan collection of modern and contemporary art.[4] The Paintings in Hospitals collection is the only known national art loan collection specifically created to improve health and wellbeing.[5]

Paintings in Hospitals is the healthcare partner of the Arts Council Collection.[6] The charity was recognised by the Department of Health and Arts Council England as a key provider of arts and health services in the 2007 UK government publication "A prospectus for arts and health".[7][8]


Paintings in Hospitals was founded in 1959 by Sheridan Russell, Head Almoner at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.[9] From the early 1950s, Russell had observed that the paintings of contemporary artists were far more effective than the existing reproductions in brightening up the corridors and waiting rooms of the hospital.[10] Russell persuaded his art-world contacts to donate artworks for display in the hospital's corridors and waiting rooms. Initially, administration of the hospital art scheme was through an advisory committee of art experts, established under the leadership of Sir Dennis Proctor, former chair of the Tate Gallery.[10]

Russell formalised the art loan programme in 1959 under the name Paintings in Hospitals. In 1960 it gained significant financial support from the Nuffield Foundation over a period of 15 years to establish a permanent collection of artworks for loan to other hospitals.[11] Early acquisitions for the Paintings in Hospitals collection included paintings by John Bratby, Gillian Ayres and Mary Fedden.[12] Within a period of ten years, the Paintings in Hospitals scheme grew to include 40 hospitals.[10]

In 1971, when the scheme registered as a charity, a board of trustees administered the programme. Board members at that time included Sir Dennis Proctor, Lawrence Gowing, and Eric Newton, who were later joined by Roger de Grey, former President of the Royal Academy and Lord Croft.[10]

In the 1980s, the charity began to develop a regional network of volunteer committees, enabling hospitals and other types of care sites outside of London to access the Paintings in Hospitals collection.[13] In 1991, the charity provided seed funding and a loan of 100 paintings to establish Paintings in Hospitals Scotland. In 2005, Paintings in Hospitals Scotland became an independent Scottish charity with a name change to Art in Healthcare.[14]

Paintings in Hospitals celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009[15]. The charity celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2019[16], with events including a collection of 60 weekly articles from notable artists, patients, and carers[17] and a panel discussion on the future of the arts-in-health sector at the Royal College of Physicians, with speakers Edmund de Waal, Errol Francis, Val Huet, Victoria Tischler, and Ed Vaizey.[18][19] Paintings in Hospitals was shortlisted for the 'Special Recognition Award' at the Charity Today Awards 2019.[20]

The Paintings in Hospitals collection

The Paintings in Hospitals collection is widely recognised as the first and only national collection of art specifically created to support physical and mental health.[13][12] The collection holds approximately 4,000 paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, animations and photographs from artists including Andy Warhol and Antony Gormley. Around 70% of the collection is on public display at all times.[21] Artworks on loan from Paintings in Hospitals to health and social care organisations around the United Kingdom are seen by 2 million patients every year.[22]

In January 2002, The Saatchi Gallery donated 50 artworks to Paintings in Hospitals, including works by artists Simon Callery, Nicholas May, Joanna Price, Stephen Murphy, Carol Rhodes and Robert Wilson.[23][24]

In 2011, Paintings in Hospitals unveiled their children's collection, designed to make healthcare sites more comfortable for children, especially teens and young adults. The artworks in the children's collection were chosen through workshops and discussions with young people from Tate Collective, the Tate's youth forum, and included artworks by Albert Irvin, John Hoyland, and Quentin Blake.[25][26] Paintings in Hospitals' discussions with Tate Collective also resulted in the charity commissioning three new artworks, to be permanently added to its collection, by New York-based artist Jon Burgerman.[26]

In 2012, Dame Stephanie Shirley donated the entirety of her art collection, including works by Andy Warhol and Elisabeth Frink, to Prior's Court School and Paintings in Hospitals.[27][7]

The chair of the charity's Collection committee is trustee David Cleaton-Roberts, director at Cristea Roberts Gallery.[28]


Paintings in Hospitals is the healthcare partner of the Arts Council Collection.[6] The Arts Council Collection has made 100 works of art available to Paintings in Hospitals enabling the charity to bring a new selection of work by contemporary artists into the healthcare system.[6] In 2018, the two organisations partnered to produce the touring exhibition and symposium Rooted in the Landscape, designed to explore the relationship between art, wellbeing and the natural environment. The exhibition features artists Andy Goldsworthy, Marc Quinn, and Turner Prize-nominated Janice Kerbel.[29][30]

The charity has worked with the V&A Museum over a period of 15 years to produce seven hospital exhibitions of artworks from the museum's collection. For some of the artworks, these exhibitions marked the first time they had been exhibited publicly.[31][32]

In 2012, Paintings in Hospitals was gifted five posters by the London Transport Museum as part of the museum’s Access to Art initiative. In celebration of the gift, Paintings in Hospitals partnered with the museum to invite a group of carers to create an original soundscape.[33][34][35]

In 2015, the charity collaborated with Hayward Gallery to bring art by Michael Craig-Martin to Vassall Medical Centre, London, and the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Buckinghamshire.[36][37]

In 2016, Paintings in Hospitals partnered with the Wallace Collection and contemporary artist Tom Ellis to commission four large-scale paintings for GP surgeries across London.[38][39] In the same year, the charity partnered with the Ingram Collection of Modern British Art to bring artworks from the collection to care homes in the South East of England.[40]

In 2017, the Paintings in Hospitals began a three-year partnership with the Central Saint Martins art school. Students from the school's BA Culture, Criticism and Curation course explore the ways in which art might support the mental health of their peers with an annual exhibition at the Menier Gallery and at King's College London.[41][42]

In 2018 Paintings in Hospitals partnered with the Barns-Graham Trust seeking an emerging curator to develop a new touring exhibition of works by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. The resulting exhibition, Linear Meditations, was shortlisted for 'Art Installation of the Year' at the Design in Mental Health Awards 2019.[43]

In 2019, Paintings in Hospitals partnered with the National Gallery to place Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria by the Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi on display at Pocklington Group Practice, a GP surgery in East Yorkshire.[44][45][46]


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  2. "Our mission". Paintings in Hospitals. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  3. "All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing". Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  4. "About our collection". Paintings in Hospitals. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  5. "Paintings in Hospitals | Art UK". Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  6. "Partners | Arts Council Collection". Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  7. "Paintings in Hospitals - The Hippocratic Post". The Hippocratic Post. 2016-10-06. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  8. A prospectus for arts and health. Arts Council England,, Great Britain. Department of Health. London. pp. 110–111. ISBN 9780728713390. OCLC 234360837.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. "Queen Square Archives - Artwork". Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  10. Panirau Mulligan, Christine (21 October 2013). "The Dunedin Hospital Art Collection: Architecture, Space and Wellbeing" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  11. Helen, Chatterjee (2013). Museums, health and well-being. Noble, Guy. Farnham, Surrey, England: Routledge. ISBN 9781409425823. OCLC 858282212.
  12. "Paintings in Hospitals | Art UK". Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  13. "Our history". Paintings in Hospitals. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  14. Mitchell, Matilda (February 2017). "Art in Healthcare History". Art in Healthcare. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  15. Waters, Florence (2009-12-17). "Paintings in Hospitals: pictures of health". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  16. "Be Part of our 60th Birthday Celebrations!". Paintings in Hospitals. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  17. Shepherd, Alison (2019-02-19). "Art for health's sake". BMJ. 364: l783. doi:10.1136/bmj.l783. ISSN 0959-8138. PMID 30782590.
  18. "Framing the Future - 13/05/2019 18:00:00". Paintings in Hospitals. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  19. RSPH. "Framing the future: What is the past, present and future role of arts in health?". Retrieved 2019-05-20.
  20. Today, Charity (2019-04-30). "Charity Today Awards 2019 finalists announced!". Charity Today News. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  21. "Being... Amisha Karia, Head of Collection, Loans and Programming, Paintings in Hospitals | Art UK". Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  22. "NHS at 70: How Art, from Andy Warhol to Quentin Blake, has helped to heal patients". 2018-06-19. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  23. "Saatchi Gallery". Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  24. "Saatchi's modern art donated to hospitals". The Independent. 2001-12-03. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  25. Waters, Florence (2010-03-03). "Paintings in Hospitals unveil their Children's Collection". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  26. "Young Curators with Tate". Paintings in Hospitals. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  27. "Art Collection". Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  29. Shepherd, Alison (2019-02-19). "Art for health's sake". BMJ. 364: l783. doi:10.1136/bmj.l783. ISSN 0959-8138. PMID 30782590.
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  31. "Arts and Healthcare - Hansard". Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  32. "Our major partners". Paintings in Hospitals. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  33. "London Transport Museum Soundscape". Paintings in Hospitals. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  34. "Kew Gardens | London Transport Museum Blog". Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  35. "Kew Gardens poster to feature in health centres". Wandsworth Times. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  36. "Michael Craig-Martin "Alphabet" exhibition installed at Stoke Mandeville Hospital". Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  37. "Alphabet: Michael Craig-Martin". Paintings in Hospitals. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  38. "The Wallace Collection » The Power of Uncertainty, The Power of Art". 2017-08-07. Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  39. "Artist Tom Ellis Creates Site-Specific Works at London's Wallace Collection". ArtfixDaily. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  40. "The Ingram Collection of Modern British Art". Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  41. Martins, Central Saint (2018-06-27). "Project: Art in Large Doses". Central Saint Martins. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  42. "Art in Large Doses". Paintings in Hospitals. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  43. Retrieved 2019-07-11. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  44. Jones, Jonathan (2019-05-01). "Artemisia Gentileschi's great work is more at home in a GP's surgery than a gallery | Jonathan Jones". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-05-20.
  45. Singh, Anita (2019-04-29). "GP surgery prescribes £3.6m National Gallery treasure with every appointment". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-05-20.
  46. CNN, Matthew Robinson (2019-05-01). "Masterpiece worth $4.7 million visits the doctor". CNN Style. Retrieved 2019-05-20.
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