Project Spotlight

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

Research shows that the artwork displayed in a healthcare facility can lower blood pressure, lift mood, reduce anxiety, and inspire and engage both patients and staff in extremely personal ways. The concept of making decisions about the design of a space on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes is known as “evidenced-based design,” and it is integral to the mission of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the global leader in physical medicine and rehabilitation for adults and children with severe and complex conditions.

When the team at the Chicago-based hospital approached Saatchi Art Chief Curator and VP of Art Advisory Rebecca Wilson about adding to their art collection, they had a very specific remit. Shirley Ryan AbilityLab prioritizes art as part of the rehabilitation process and through their collection they seek to create an immediate emotional connection with everyone entering the hospital. Because of the severe nature of the injuries and illnesses they treat, their patients’ stays are typically much longer than they would be in an acute-care center. For this reason, the hospital not only wanted artwork that was uplifting and comforting, but that also encouraged a person’s imagination, so that if they were there for long periods of time, they may come to feel or experience more the longer they “live” with the artworks.

For the project, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab asked the Saatchi Art team to provide artworks that were non-representation, colorful, joyful or soothing, and which could encourage further reflection. They also wanted to display works in all styles and mediums, and for them to be by living artists from all over the world to reflect to their global patient population. The diverse collection curated by Rebecca ultimately featured works by an international roster of more than 130 emerging artists. From Yuliya Martynova’s delicate depictions of paper planes set against colorful and dramatic backgrounds to Peggy Lee’s crystallographic, web-like compositions exploring human connectivity, the collection filled the hospital’s public and patient spaces with colorful, invigorating. and inspiring art.

Following findings from evidence-based design, our senior art advisors can help you procure artworks that create healing environments without distracting from the important work of recovery and wellness.If you’re interested in working with a Saatchi Art advisor on your next project, please get in touch with us at