Exhibition celebrating The Art of Healthcare opens at DMU

A new exhibition tracing the history of hospitals, healthcare and public art has gone on display to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS.

art health 2

The Art of Healthcare at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Heritage Centre features artworks, artefacts and archival material belonging to the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

The Trust holds one of the largest public art collections in the county, and was one of the first to recognise the power of art to improve patient wellbeing.

Exhibits include paintings, staff photographs, Victorian medical equipment and even an iron lung machine, below, which was used to treat polio patients too weak to breathe.

iron lung art

One of the biggest items on display is a wooden staff board which used to hang in the LRI entrance, which displayed names of surgeons and consultants on duty.

Art Heath 1

The Art of Healthcare is also part of a new arts trail launched by the new arts and heritage officer at Leicester’s hospitals, Sallie Varnam. The trail takes approximately 3,000 steps to complete – a third of a person’s recommended daily exercise – and runs around Leicester Royal Infirmary taking in artwork and historic buildings before ending at the Heritage Centre.

uhl art 2
Jon Currington, Head of Tertiary Partnerships at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “This wonderful collection is part of the launch of UHL arts and heritage programme. It is also the end of a trail which links the hospital with the university.

“This is an example of how neighbours can and should work together. We have achieved something truly remarkable with this exhibition.”

Curator Elizabeth Wheelband, archives assistant Steven Peachey and Sallie all spent months in the trust’s archives choosing items to be loaned for the exhibition.
Elizabeth said: “It has been great fun to work on such an interesting exhibition. It’s very much a showcase of UHL’s collection and the fascinating objects that they hold, and the history of the role of art in wellbeing.
“We will also be holding a complementary exhibition which opens soon about the history of DMU’s School of Nursing which has trained nurses for Leicester’s hospitals for generations.”

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Many of the items once formed part of the LRI museum, founded by former consultant anaesthetist Dr Aubrey Stewart, and former administrator Stanley Tipton. It was based in the old nurses’ theatre at LRI but shut following a flood.

Leicester’s hospitals arts and heritage committee is working with DMU’s Fine Art department to develop changing exhibitions at LRI. Students have already started work on restoring a sculpture by Peter Randall Page RA which once stood in the LRI.

•    The Art of Healthcare is open now at DMU Heritage Centre in Hawthorn Building from 12 noon to 5pm Tuesday to Friday. It is also open the last Sunday in the month.   

Posted on Monday 30th July 2018

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