Harborview Medical Center
Grown over four decades, a public hospital’s special collection is rooted in the power of art to mitigate stress and support healing.
For more than a century, Harborview Medical Center has functioned as a unique community and regional resource. It is a county hospital, a teaching and research institution, a regional trauma and burn center, and the primary health care provider for many low-income and disenfranchised people in the community. Harborview embraces its mission of treating everybody, regardless of economic status or cultural background, with exceptional care.
Established in 1977, the King County Public Art Collection at Harborview is based on the belief that the arts can help counterbalance the emotional, psychological, technological, and institutional intensities of the medical center—art reduces stress and conveys a sense of individual dignity and worth. The hospital’s public spaces, specialty clinics, and corridors promote a healing environment with an extensive range of portable artworks: approximately 500 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and fiber-based works.
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Over the last four decades, the collection has grown not only in the number of artworks it encompasses, but also in the geographic distribution of the artists represented. The scale of individual projects has also increased, now including major site-specific and architecturally integrated artworks.
4Culture works in partnership with the hospital and the University of Washington, which manages Harborview, to steward the medical center’s comprehensive public art program, including works from Harborview’s own collection, which is overseen by its staff. “Creating a Place to Heal,” an art plan created by Fernanda D’Agostino in 2002, guides Harborview’s ongoing investment in art.