Caring collections: Westmead Hospital art collection

  • Photo of a river with sunlight streaming down blurring the centre of the image


    Lake Parramatta After a Storm by James Wilson

    This work won 2nd place in the large artwork category in the 2013 Westmead Art Prize.

  • Photo of a large round boulder on a beach


    Moeraki Boulders NZ by Brett Hamlin

    This photograph won 1st place in the photography category in the 2013 Westmead Art Prize.

  • Black and white photo of the top of a building with statues dotting on tops of the columns


    The Holiday by Judy Zou

    This work won 3rd prize in the photography category in the 2013 Westmead Art Prize.

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

In this article

Museums & Galleries of NSW helps small-medium museums, galleries and Aboriginal cultural centres create exciting experiences for visitors and, through this, thriving local NSW communities. We don't run museums, galleries and cultural centres but we care about those who do. We develop their skills, connect them with others in the industry, provide funding, point visitors their way, and give them access to ground-breaking exhibitions.

Museums & Galleries of NSW is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

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