Curated: Beach Inspired Art Shines Light into the Halls of Jennie Sealy Hospital

the Intersection of ARTS and MEDICINE

Curated: Beach Inspired Art Shines Light into the Halls of Jennie Sealy Hospital

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As you walk into the Jennie Sealy Hospital in Galveston, it is almost as if the beach comes with you. Natural light pours into every hallway, and the floors sparkle like sand glistening in the sun. Sweeping views of Galveston Bay or the Gulf of Mexico are visible from the windows of all 310 patient rooms.

And nearly every wall in the 765,000-square-foot hospital is adorned with Galveston-themed art, bringing all the city has to offer inside for patients to enjoy.

Donna K. Sollenberger oversaw much of the building and design of the new hospital, part of The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), which opened in April.

“There are 12 principles of evidence-based design for hospitals that have been researched and found to improve the healing environment,” said Sollenberger, executive vice president and CEO of UTMB Health System. “One of those is art and another is natural light.”

Sollenberger and David L. Callender, M.D., president of UTMB, decided that the hospital should embrace and incorporate the look and feel of Galveston’s beach community.

Partnering with H. Marion Art Consultants, Inc., they created a collection of more than 1,000 pieces of art—half by artists in the Houston and Galveston areas. Because the hospital was working within a strict budget, few pieces are original. Instead, the consultants used a high-tech scanner to create copies of original works—with the artists’ approval, of course—and applied them to canvas, metal and other surfaces. Images and installations featuring sand dollars, sail boats, palm trees, photographs of the beach and Pleasure Pier are all part of the vast collection.

“One of the artists that is represented in some of the patient rooms and family areas is a retired nurse from UTMB,” Sollenberger said. “She was so honored to be part of this project and share her work with patients, staff, nurses and doctors at the Jennie Sealy Hospital.”

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