Caring collections: Westmead Hospital art collection

The Westmead Hospital art collection is just over 32 years old and its history is an interesting one.

Born in the 1970s when ideas about art and its display were changing, when Westmead Hospital was under development, its architects and designers came across what was then a novel solution to the hospital’s interior design and decoration.

They held a unique competition as a means of procuring original paint works for the hospital. The Westmead Print Prize was held during a time when premier health journals including the British Medical Journal were advocating for the benefits of displaying original art work in a hospital environment.

Through the original Print Prize and other collection mechanisms the vast interior of the hospital–public through-fares, public waiting areas, walkways, offices, specialist rooms and wards–were filled with art. The criteria were simple: to bring art into the hospital which would uplift, inspire, and offer solace to patients and their families in times of worry and distress. Aims that differed significantly from the typical gallery collection policy where latest, greatest and best might feature.

Bring art into the hospital which would uplift, inspire, encourage reflection and provide distraction. To offer solace to patients and their families in times of worry and distress.

Since then the collection has grown to over 1000 works and includes a range of artforms – prints, paintings, photography, sculpture and installation pieces.

The current form of the Westmead Hospital Art Prize is as an acquisitive prize and incorporates several innovative features. The popular temporary exhibition program displays between 40 and 60 works in rotations of 6-8 weeks. The exhibition is held in one of the main corridors complete with gallery lighting and an estimated 5000 visitors flowing past. All works in the temporary exhibition are for sale.


This year’s theme is redevelopment, renewal and revitalization – the art prize is currently open for submissions.

Know an artist whose works could contribute to a caring collection? Spread the word.

More information and entry details can be found online at International Conservation Services

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