Hospitalized veterans will see murals on their hospital walls, fountains in gardens, and sculpture all around when specially commissioned art works are installed furing the next year in 15 selected Veterans Administration hospitals.

The program, which also will include one artist-in-residence to give classes at the VA Medical Center in Hines, Ill., is part of a joint effort by the National Endowment for the Arts and the VA to "support the emotional needs" of hospitalized veterans.

"This is truly a landmark in health care," Joan Mondale said yesterday at a press conference in the vice president's office. She was joined by VA Administrator Max Cleland and NEA Chairman Livingston Biddle.

The program will pay for various projects -- including tapestries, fountains, sculptures, murals and ceiling hangings -- in conjunction with new construction or renovation of VA facilities, including sites in Richmond and Martinsburg, W. Va.

It is the third in a series of recently announced joint ventures between NEA and government agencies, a plan that Mrs. Mondale enthusiastically supports. Yesterday she also mentioned plans for future alliances between NEA and the Interior Department -- dealing with "urban parks and national parks" -- and with the Department of Energy, to determine how cultural institutions can save money.

"If the program works well, we'll think of expanding," said Cleland, whose agency is putting up more than $500,000 for the art works, with no more than $50,000 to be spent in one place. There are 172 VA hospitals.

Cleland said a 1978 national survey of some 40,000 veterans showed that they were least satisfied with "emotional support." "We're interested," he said, "in improving patient care with a little color, a little design, somthing that will make the place less dreary."