Two Case Studies: Acrylic Art in Healthcare

Acrylic art is simply beautiful. The interplay of light and the material, and the impact that has on the artwork, combine to create vibrant, brilliant art pieces of stunning clarity and personality.

Providing a sleek, clean, and contemporary feel, acrylic art is perfect for supporting and complimenting modern or transitional spaces.

Acrylic art is also incredibly versatile, and offers a number of options that allow it to be adapted to a wide variety of environments, conditions, and roles. Clear acrylic, acrylic with no backing, is perfect for areas that have a lot of natural light, or for installations where the artwork is hung to take advantage of natural or artificial backlighting. For areas where light is in shorter supply, or spaces where illuminating the artwork may be more difficult, acrylic with a white backing solves for these challenges. Acrylic also comes in a matte non-glare finish, allowing the artwork to be installed where reflections from direct light could be a potential issue.

Acrylic art is also available in different thickness. Thicker acrylic offers more material for light to react within. In most cases, 1/4" acrylic is perfect for the majority of installations. But for spaces where the artwork should really make a statement like lobbies or waiting rooms, 3/8" is recommended.

To highlight the versatility of acrylic and how it can be used in healthcare, we're going to explore two mini-case studies.

Case Study 1: The Outdated Community Hospital

Setting The Stage
A community hospital wanted to update their antiquated Emergency Department. As a part of the aesthetic update, they also wanted to address a long-standing wayfinding problem, to better assist and guide patients from the front of the hospital to the ED.

The Design Requirements
The hospital wanted to modernize the look and feel of the ED, but didn't want the environment to feel sterile, cold, unfamiliar, or intimidating. They wanted to help alleviate the anxiety and stress felt by visitors, instead of reflecting and amplifying it. They also wanted to mitigate patient feelings of disorientation and lost-ness, also key contributors to feelings of greater anxiety, by creating easily identifiable pathways and quiet spaces within the normally high-traffic, high activity Emergency Department.

Our Approach
It started with a walk through of the hospital and ED, and a meeting with the interior designer and furniture dealer. This was crucial. As only by developing a first-hand understanding of the space and how people moved, worked, and were treated within it, could our own art designers understand how to best improve the overall human experience within the space. Tight collaboration with the other design professionals was also essential not only to the creation and sustenance of a consistent over-all look and feel, but also to assuring that the materials, colors, and furniture pieces work together holistically to deliver a positive human experience.

The Solution
We used acrylic art specifically because the goal was to create an updated timeless look in the areas where patients spend the most time. Acrylic art is also very durable, and well able to withstand the rigors of a busy Emergency Department. For imagery, we selected works that showcased and celebrated local artists and local scenery, in order to instill a greater sense of familiarity and well-being. The clarity and vibrancy that acrylic imbues paired artwork with really helped pull the images out of the background activity of the ED, and into the foreground of a visitor's perception.

The Outcome
The end result was that the hospital was thrilled with both the finished design and art installation, and with the increase in patient satisfaction ratings they saw from their regular patient experience surveys post-installation. 

Case Study 2: The Children's Tower

Setting The Stage
A hospital had recently finished construction on a new Children's Hospital tower, and wanted to enhance the new facility with art.

The Design Requirements
The hospital wanted to implement an art program that reflected the innovative design of the new facilities, while also communicating feelings of security, safety, and well-being. To this end they had worked with local photographers to shoot photographs of the surrounding area, surrounding campus, and local families and children at play. It was very important to them that the images be the primary focus of the art installation. They also wanted a product that was durable, easily cleanable, and if needed, could be changed in the future with new imagery. 

They also needed 771 pieces, and needed them installed within 2 months.

Our Approach
We started with a series of on-site, in-person meetings with the hospital and the architecture firm who designed the new facility. They were able to provide specifications that helped greatly with our specific product selection. The one catch was, the specs asked for a solution that differed from our standard acrylic art products, both in terms of thickness and the actual type of acrylic used. Fortunately, one of our manufacturing facilities was a short 2-hour drive away. We were able to quickly produce a range of different acrylic samples, which allowed us to give the client a hands-on exploration of the differences between gauges, finishes, and even materials (Polycarbonate, PETG, Acrylic).

The Solution
Based on initial specs, we knew quickly that acrylic was the right material. Not only is it durable, but it allows us to create pieces that are frameless and matte-less. Coupled with the way acrylic responds to light, the imagery easily captures visitors' attention as a main focal point. Sandwich acrylic, where a piece of artwork is giclee printed on premium paper and set between two acrylic sheets, made it easy for the hospital to rotate or install new imagery as needed. The installation options acrylic offers also allowed us to stretch our design chops and create some beautiful 2, 3, 4, and 6 image collages, in addition to the single pieces.

The Outcome
Success! Our state-of-the-art manufacturing and installation capabilities allowed us to produce and install the required number of pieces within the incredibly tight timeframe, while meeting the custom specification requirements. The feedback and reactions from both hospital staff and patients was incredibly positive. Our work on this project also ended up serving as the basis for a future "NICU Wall of Hope" project for the same hospital.

Author image
About Ted Weil
The GAA Mothership: Canton, MA
Ted currently drives marketing activities at Great American Art. A musician and career marketer, he holds a B.A. Music from Colby College, and an MBA from the University of Rhode Island.