Attention to the role of art within healthcare is on the rise. Dutch hospitals are increasingly embracing the concept of the ‘healing environment’, which aims to create agreeable hospital surroundings for the well-being of employees and patients. The concept is being interpreted in diverse ways; irrespective of the specific outcome of this interpretation, the healing environment does have consequences for the healthcare facilities’ policies related to art. Research at a few Dutch hospitals has revealed that the more stringently the guidelines on the healing environment are followed, the more emphasis is placed on the medical-functional approach to art and the lesser attention is paid to the intrinsic value of art. Hospitals that reject the concept of the healing environment, however, also clearly demonstrate defining art in terms of making the surroundings agreeable to the patient. The healing environment therefore cannot serve as a new legitimation of autonomous artworks in existing hospital collections, but it is congruent with the recent attention given to the societal role of art.
Conflict of interest: none declared. Financial support: none declared.