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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.

Connie Watts. Vereinigung, 1997. Birch plywood and hardwood dowels. Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA. King County Public Art Collection. Photo: Spike Mafford

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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