Paintings in Hospitals is the UK's leading national arts in health charity but our beginnings were much smaller...

In 1959, in a busy hospital corridor, Sheridan Russell fixed an artwork to the wall. Sheridan was Britain's first male almoner. The almoners were the pioneers of what we now call Social Work. They believed that medical treatment could be made better by improving aftercare and the care environment. Sheridan worked at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and had started displaying artworks in waiting rooms and wards. He noticed people’s reactions to these new artworks and began to see just how important art could be to our health and wellbeing.

With help from the Nuffield Foundation, Sheridan set out to create a special art collection. This would become the Paintings in Hospitals collection: the first and only national collection of art to support people’s physical and mental health.

Our founder Sheridan Russell, 1900-1991

Through the years, Sheridan inspired more people to see the importance of art in healthcare. Sir Dennis Proctor (former Chair of Tate), Roger de Grey (former President of the Royal Academy of Arts) and many more Patrons, trustees and supporters joined the Paintings in Hospitals mission. Together, they helped our charity’s impact grow.

Sheridan believed that everyone should be able to experience the health benefits of art, regardless of situation or location. So, in the 1980s, we began to develop a regional network, enabling care sites outside of London to access our services and borrow our art. In 1991, we provided seed funding for Paintings in Hospitals Scotland, which has since become Art in Healthcare.

The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Circa 1960. The birthplace of Paintings in Hospitals.

The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery circa 1960. The birthplace of Paintings in Hospitals.

Today, Paintings in Hospitals works across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We care for 3,900 artworks in our collection, many by world-famous artists. We use our collection to inspire art walks, artist projects and creative activities. And we work side-by-side with patients and care staff to help create care spaces that are encouraging, enriching and empowering.

We hope Sheridan would be proud.

Can you help us bring art, comfort and inspiration into the lives of patients and carers?