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New Children's Hospital to feature 300 works of art

The hallways and public spaces inside John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital are coming to life with artwork.

About 35 to 40 pieces were installed last week throughout the new hospital on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

“We are all in the thick of it now. Every floor of the hospital has some work in it already,” said Scott Propeack, volunteer curator of art at Oishei Hospital and interim co-director of the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

With the hospital’s Nov. 10 opening approaching, another 60 artworks are expected to go up this week. In all, 300 works of art will be on display when it opens, offering a diverse mix of art and photographs from local artists to help define the hospital’s character and complement dedicated themes on each floor.

A digital mosaic made of 10,000 self-portraits by patients and other children will be prominently displayed in the hospital lobby. “It’s very impressive,” Propeack said.

There is some art work already installed on each of Oishei’s 12 floors, each defined by a theme such as City of Lights, sports, seasons and imagination.

“We are really making sure when everyone moves in and the families walk in the front door, that there is work that alters the experience and makes it a far more welcoming space,” Propeack said.

The new hospital will reflect a blend of old and newly commissioned art, he said.

Multi-colored stained glass windows that were a longstanding fixture inside Libby’s Chapel at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo have a new home on the fifth floor of the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. The main panel of windows show children playing sports, a mother holding her infant, an expectant mother and a doctor with a stethoscope examining a child.

Stained glass windows have been moved from Libby's Chapel in the old hospital to the John R. Oishei Children's Hospital. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

Some art pieces from the old hospital have been reframed and installed at the new one. Among those paintings and drawing are 20 pieces donated to the hospital by the Buffalo Society of Artists in 2006. ”Many are abstract,” Propeack said. “Bill Maggio’s work is a drawing of complex ribbons and Rita Auerbach’s is a summer watercolor theme for the seasons floor.”\

New work installed last week included photographs of gardens and flowers by Jean Knox, who helped develop the art collection at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, where several of her enlarged photos fill the walls. Knox’s work is new to Children’s Hospital.

Oishei has drawn its inspiration, in part, from art collections at Cleveland Clinic and Roswell Park

The new hospital also will feature an expanded presence of art created by the late Virginia E. Tillou, whose son, Dana, has donated more of her work. That’s in addition to signature pieces by Tillou that have been moved from the Bryant Street hospital.

“This is realizing the vision that Allegra Jaros had for what the healing arts program could be,” Propeack said of the hospital president. “It’s great to see.”

The new hospital, designed by Shepley Bulfinch in Boston and built by Turner Construction Co., cost $270 million and is scheduled to open in mid November. It will replace Women & Children’s on Bryant Street.

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