How Local Nature Photographs Nurture Connections Between Health and the Natural World

By Kurt Johnson Photography • August 14, 2023

As communities thrive and populations grow, the need for accessible and advanced healthcare facilities becomes more and more essential. And coming up with fresh ways to facilitate healing, like incorporating local nature photographs into healthcare environments, is an easy, effective way to bring nature indoors to benefit patients and the entire care team.  

Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center in Beatrice, Nebraska recently underwent an expansion to provide improved care within the community.

But the expansion project wasn’t just about adding more space; it was about reimagining the healthcare experience. Altus Architectural Studios and Altus designer, Eva Krueger, carefully incorporated modern elements into the new space while preserving the facility’s cherished history. And incorporating local nature photographs to promote healing was an important part of the new design.

Being familiar with the benefits of biophilic design, BCH wanted nature to be part of the expansion, as a way to foster connections between healthcare, community, and the natural world. And Altus Architectural Studios outdid themselves with the creative design of this healing space.

One of the most remarkable features of the revitalized facility was its waiting area.  The brick wall that had been the former exterior of the building became the interior wall of the waiting room, blending the old with the new.

The original windows needed to be covered for the expansion, which made the artwork that was chosen to cover them even more important.  The art itself became the new window to the outdoors, with healing views of  local landscapes for patients, visitors, and staff.   

Kurt traveled to Beatrice and the surrounding areas to capture images of soothing landscapes and recognizable touchstones for the murals used in this project.

BHC wanted images that were meaningful to the community and would provide an extra level of comfort and familiarity to the patients and staff.  Several images were taken at Homestead National Historic Park in Gage County, Nebraska – a significant area of land during the westward expansion of America.

Three large-scale murals stretched across the red brick wall, extending over 40 feet and towering 80 inches high.  And they weren’t just any murals. 

Each mural was made up of 7 hand-stretched gallery-wrapped canvases that were expertly fastened together, giving the appearance of one striking art piece, by framer Philip Frangenberg of Frameworks, Inc.

The three murals created were each custom color slices, which are KJP’s art pieces featuring multiple images grouped by a common theme and artistically rendered by Victoria Gerkin, part of KJP’s in-house creative team.

With a total of 21 canvases hung, each measuring 25” W x 80” H, the result was a dramatic waiting area with breathtaking views of the local landscape.  Studies have shown that exposure to natural imagery can significantly reduce stress and promote emotional well-being. The facility had effectively turned its walls into windows to a world of calm and rejuvenation.

The Clinic opened in May to over 200 patients and hasn’t slowed down since.

The new addition consolidated Beatrice’s primary care providers into one location, allowing for more localized, convenient care.  And According to BCH, the community loves the new facility, especially the artwork: “Our patients are loving the beautiful agriculture and historical scenes from Gage County/Southeast Nebraska.”

The transformation of the Beatrice Clinic stands as a testament to the power of evolution and innovation. With its expanded spaces and captivating nature imagery, the facility has redefined healthcare by keeping the needs of the community at the forefront of the renovation, emphasizing the inseparable link between healing and community by making local nature images an integral part of their expanded clinic.

As the facility continues to bloom and thrive, it serves as an inspiring example of how healthcare can flourish when it nurtures the connection between human health and the natural world.

Looking for more creative ways to update an existing space by incorporating nature art?

Check out this stunning installation that transformed a long corridor in the basement of an established hospital (that had no determined setup for lighting) by using a nature-based solution.  The result was a healing hallway people now go out of their way to walk by!

Design Solutions That Improve Outcomes in Established Healthcare Environments

Sign up for our newsletter today!

Get a preview of Kurt’s newest images, his behind-the-scenes shenanigans, and the stories behind the installations.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.