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If the word “hospital” elicits a mental image of sterile rooms and hallways and dreary decor, think again.

Modern hospitals have hit on a simple but effective way to foster even more healing: art.

It’s a creative approach to an age-old need — and one that’s transforming not just the walls of modern hospitals but the atmosphere in which patients heal. In an engaging feature for Artnet, journalist Menachem Wecker dives into the world of hospital art.

It’s a much deeper well than you might think.

Clinicians have long wondered how to make hospitals more, well, hospitable. Art and architecture have always been parts of those conversations. Wecker takes a long view of his topic, incorporating the latest scientific research into art’s beneficial effects for patients.

He doesn’t stop there: The article takes readers to modern-day clinics where art and science commingle. Many leading hospitals have public art programs and personnel whose jobs revolve around aesthetics. Wecker interviews art experts from the Cleveland Clinic and the health facilities at the University of Texas at Austin.

The art goes way beyond ho-hum landscapes in hospital rooms. So do its effects, which can linger with patients and their families long after they’ve been discharged.

“One engages with works of art with a different mind-set when one’s sick than when one’s healthy,” Wecker writes.

His piece will leave you with a sense of art’s role in modern health care — and a healthier appreciation of its healing power.