The MUHC is home to one of the largest public art collections in Quebec

Matisse, Hockney and Picasso are names you expect to see on gallery or museum walls in Montreal, not where doctors are hard at work.

“It is one of the largest public collections in Quebec, especially for a hospital,” said Alexandra Kirsh, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) RBC Art and Heritage Centre Curator.

The MUHC Foundation owns approximately two thousand art pieces and medical objects.

The collection is then given to the MUHC hospital and distributed throughout the Glen site.

There are pieces dating back to the hospital’s foundation in 1821.

“It’s very important for us to provide a healing environment that is peaceful, and it is demonstrated that art actually contributes to reducing stress, reducing pain,” said MUHC Foundation president and CEO Marie-Helene Laramee.

The MUHC Art and Heritage Centre relies on donations from the community, to make time spent at the hospital a little easier with artwork that lines the walls. (Olivia O’Malley/CTV News)

The building was designed with art in mind.

A special alcove was even built for a sculpture of Queen Victoria that was moved from the old site.

It’s so heavy that the floors had to be reinforced to hold the statue’s weight.

There are also 11 large 2D sculptures made by Quebec artists as part of the province’s one per cent art commission.

In addition, dozens of walls are filled with paintings, prints and photographs.

“We’re trying to present them contemporary artwork that they would not normally get the chance to see because it is hard often for our communities to go to a museum,” said Kirsh.

She likes to call her work careful curation.

Kirsh works with rotating and permanent galleries and selects art for the needs of each space.

“Whether that’s to calm or distract a patient and to improve the working environment of the staff,” said the curator.

The centre director, Dr. Jonathan Meakins, said art is just as important for staff and families as it is for healing patients.

“They need an environment that is a distraction from the sterile white walls of a gigantic institution,” said Meakins.

The collection is constantly growing.

The MUHC Art and Heritage Centre relies on donations from the community to make time spent at the hospital a little easier. 

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