Arts and heritage

We own and manage one of the largest health-related arts and heritage collections in Europe and we use it to enhance healthcare settings.

Hanging artwork at St Thomas' Hospital, Aquatic Flora by Tsai and Yoshikawa

Supporting better health

Our collection comprises around 4,500 artworks and artifacts which date from 1500. We manage our collection to improve health today, and we grow and preserve it for generations to come.

The collection has grown over five centuries through donations, bequests, purchases and commissions. Just over half of the collection is currently on display across Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust hospitals and community sites, enhancing spaces for patients, staff and visitors.

Key facts

500 years

Over 500 years, we have amassed our fine art and heritage collection

4,500

More than 4,500 pieces make up our collection, spanning all different media and eras

The fine and decorative art objects range from paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and architectural drawings to photography, textiles, collages, ceramics and silver.  

Our collection of prints, dating from the 18th century to the present day, is a particular highlight and includes a strong presence of renowned 20th century British artists with works from Barbara Hepworth, Eduardo Paolozzi, Bruce McLean and John Piper.

Artworks cover a range of subject matters; many reflect our heritage, our mission for health and our place, for example Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals and people associated with them and the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. From the early 20th century onwards, the collection began to focus on responding to the needs of the healthcare environment and features more examples of abstract and aesthetic subjects.

We also own historical artefacts collected to preserve the hospitals’ medical heritage. These include pharmaceutical and medical collections, wax models, silverware, furniture, books, memorials, plaques and glass objects.

A nurse with one of our artworks by Susan Aldworth
An NHS staff member with one of our artworks. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2019
Artwork in Guy's Hospital. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2019
Artwork in Guy's Hospital. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2019

A responsible custodian

As custodian of this valuable asset, we take a careful and responsible approach to managing and growing our collection. Many of our artworks live inside healthcare facilities, enhancing spaces for patients, staff and visitors.

These environments present specific challenges and opportunities, so we work closely with specialist conservators to assess which objects can be displayed safely and where they will have the greatest impact on health. Each decision considers how the healthcare environment is used day to day, not only to preserve the artwork but also to ensure the safety of the patients, staff and visitors moving around that environment.

All additions to the collection, whether they are gifts, commissions or purchases, are acquired with careful consideration of how and where they can be displayed, their suitability for healthcare environments and their impact on health.