Mission Health is a hospital, not a contemporary art center. But you wouldn’t know that from browsing the public areas—and, if circumstances bring you there, to the patient and waiting rooms—of Mission’s new North Tower.
There, you’ll find sculpture, etchings, woodcuts, photographs and one-of-a-kind paintings—some 659 artworks in all, from more than 150 Western North Carolina artists. All of it created on commission, and purchased, by Mission Health.
“We wanted to create a healing environment and we wanted it to be representative of Western North Carolina,” said Nancy Lindell is the public and media relations manager with Mission Health. “We have Cherokee artists, we have origami artists, but the real crux of it is to say ‘What kind of environment can we create here that brings the healing?’ Nobody wants to come to the hospital, but we want to do what we can to make that time as peaceful as possible.”
For many years, hospitals have taken seriously the connection of art with healing, and Mission Health has had art on its walls for many years. But few hospitals have made this level of investment, both in the number of commissioned artworks and the commitment to artists from a specific region.
By contrast, the “Appalachia Now” exhibition that reopened the Asheville Art Museum features 50 works on loan by the 50 artists. The museum hasn’t purchased any of those works or paid those artists beyond nominal stipends. The museum’s renovation cost $24 million, while Mission Health’s budget for the North Tower was $400 million.