In a place like a hospital where emotions can be overwhelming, art can be a potent distraction. Even more so if it surrounds patients with life-size figures and landscapes where one can lose oneself, as if in a dream. This is the situation at the Humanitas Clinical Institute thanks to the project “Brera in Humanitas”, which brings 23 details from 15 masterpieces of the Pinacoteca di Brera into the waiting rooms and corridors of the hospital. These maxi-format enlargements are made from 680-million-pixel reproductions, totalling about 400 square metres of art.

Those sitting in the waiting room before being admitted find themselves in the garden of “After Lunch”, under the calm gaze of the women portrayed by the Lega. Those preparing for a Chemotherapy session find 40 square metres of a garden full of squashes, in the company of the “The Fruit Seller” by Campi. Those in the Check Up area can rest amid the blue brushstrokes of Raphael, in the shadow of the temple of the “Marriage of the Virgin” on 12 metres of wall. Walking toward the nurses’ changing rooms, to the basement of the hospital, there are 23 meters of woods and bell towers from the views of Lombardy by Bellotto. Or one can lose oneself in the placid waters of a landscape that, in the “Annunciation” by Francia, forms the small backdrop to the main scene and that now, in the hospital, becomes an independent work of art that is 10 square metres in size. Or be carried away by “The Kiss” by Hayez on the 8 meters of wall at the entrance. Or, feel the sweetness of the touching hands of “The Lovers”, by Bordon, in the waiting room of the Fertility Centre.

These are some of the experiences that the hospital provides thanks to the masterpieces of Bernardo Bellotto, Paris Bordon, Vincenzo Campi, Carlo Crivelli, Piero della Francesca, Filippo De Pisis, Francesco Hayez, Il Francia, Silvestro Lega, Lorenzo Lotto, Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Raphael and Simon Vouet.

In choosing the details to be enlarged on a 1:36 scale (1 centimetre on the original painting now corresponds to 36 centimetres on the wall), the focus was on gestures of care, intense gazes and landscapes, in a game of parallels between art as care and care as art. So it is, for example, that the delicate fingers of the woman holding Hayez’s “Vase of Flowers on the Window of a Harem recall the gesture of a nurse arranging an IV for a patient. This painting, by the way, is not currently exhibited in the Pinacoteca and can therefore be admired exclusively in the waiting room of the Humanitas Senology unit.

“We are grateful to the Pinacoteca di Brera and Amici di Brera for their enthusiastic participation in this project which is unique in the world”, said Gianfelice Rocca, President of Humanitas. “It is an example of collaboration between two great institutions, strongly rooted in the territory but with a clear international reach. The philosophy behind this innovative experience is shared the world over by research and care centres such as the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, hospitals are where needs and a vital hub of skills and experiences intersect, where the language of care remains human and is intertwined with technological innovation: here art and beauty become a point of contact between people, a source of well-being and reflection for patients and professionals. Beauty has been in the DNA of Humanitas since its inception, starting with the architectural choices, materials and colours for the interiors. ‘Brera in Humanitas’ makes the bond between care and beauty even more real for the 11,000 people, including health professionals, patients and carers, who are at our hospital and Campus every day”.

“This initiative”, stated James M. Bradburne, director of the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Biblioteca Braidense, “makes a difference for people at work, for those visiting relatives or friends or for those undergoing treatment, helping to make the hospital experience less worrying and more reassuring by displaying details of some of the Brera masterpieces. Not everyone can always make it to the museum, but Brera is with you when you need it the most. A proposal that is part of our multi-year project Occorre tutta una città, which encourages the participation of families, children, and gives attention to people with special needs, reiterating the fundamental social role of culture, regarding the museum as a reference point for an entire community”.

“Beauty, art, and meditation are acts and gestures that often present themselves as an authentic medicine for the soul”, commented Carlo Orsi, President of Amici di Brera. “They help us feel well. They take us away from everyday life and into a dimension of inner peace. When this project was proposed to us, we immediately agreed to do it. Many times as Amici di Brera we have been able to contemplate the extent to which art is truly beneficial in many different contexts. I cite for example the wonderful project promoted with Progetto Itaca in which some of their visitors were trained as museum guides. To think that today patients and health personnel, staff and all those who use Humanitas facilities are surrounded by beauty makes us hope that these reproductions can give them the strength to face and move forward in everyday life. The Amici di Brera have always set the goal of a greater knowledge of the extraordinary works in the Pinacoteca. Brera is a great museum, and is in all of our hearts more and more”.

“We selected 23 details from the paintings in the Brera collection, making them into extraordinary enlargements that line the walls of the hospital, showing gestures, gazes, and landscapes whose beauty become a support for patients and those who work in the hospital. The careful planning started in November 2021 with meetings, ideas, analysis of details and inspections in the departments. I’m very satisfied with this program and the final result and I’m sure that these images will reach everyone’s soul”, concluded Alessandra Quarto, director of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, who started the project in 2021, when she was deputy director of the Pinacoteca di Brera.“Brera in Humanitas” is a new chapter of “La Cura e la Bellezza”, a project begun in 2018 with “La Carrara in Humanitas“, which brought the art of the Accademia Carrara Museum to the Humanitas Gavazzeni and Castelli hospitals in Bergamo. Here the large installations have accompanied the most difficult moments of the Covid-19 pandemic, becoming support for health professionals and patients.


The very high-resolution images were printed on a special WallFilm that reproduces the material effect of the canvases, highlighting brushstrokes and small cracks. The project does not interfere with the hospital’s functional features: lights, temperature regulators, fire extinguishers, safety exits, and monitors are now “embedded” amid the brushstrokes of the Masters of Brera. Each art wall has a caption in Italian and English. The QR Code refers to the project website, with in-depth information on each work exhibited and the video, made with the participation of doctors, nurses, social and health workers (OSS), reception staff and Humanitas staff.