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Walking down the corridors of a senior living community could offer little to catch your attention—either a blank wall or a display of nondescript framed prints. But things are different at Pennswood Village. Home to a very art-centered population, the residents’ personal works and collections are hung in the hallways for everyone to enjoy.

Pennswood Village resident resident Ann Balderston and her artwork.
Pennswood Village resident resident Ann Balderston and her artwork.

The continuing care retirement community in Bucks County, Pa., encourages those who live there to personalize the area outside of their homes. Their displays create unique spaces and appeal to a sense of artistic creation and presentation. But the challenge was how to encourage this expression while minimizing damage to the newly renovated hallways.

“We were looking for a solution that would still allow the residents to show their artwork in an attractive manner but one that could also eliminate putting so many holes in the walls,” said Tom Atkins, COO at Pennswood Village. The solution was found when their architect recommended using a wall-mounted art hanging system.

Working with Gallery System Art Displays, the approach consists of three components: a discreet wall-mounted track that can be mounted end to end or cut smaller to fit the space; hangers that are inserted into the track and slide horizontally; and compact hooks that attach to the hangers and adjust vertically to any desired height. The system eliminates filling the wall with nail holes and also makes it easy to change out a display quickly without needing tools or having to repair the holes left behind.

One of the biggest advantages to a hanging system is how easily a group of pictures can be displayed, which suits the needs of the Pennswood Village residents. The hanging system keeps the frames straight and aligned and makes it easier to rearrange the artwork and see how it will look while it’s hanging on the wall. Depending on the length of hallway outside of the apartment, each resident has a number of hanging cables from the tracks running along the tops of the walls to attach their artwork.

Atkins said originally they just purchased enough material to test out the system but quickly appreciated how the technique allowed the displays to have such a professional appearance. It’s been such a positive experience that now they’ve installed the system beyond the residential hallways and have added it to their conference room and some of the public rooms in the community building, he said.

For Gallery System Art Displays, they appreciate the opportunity to help make it more convenient and economical, but also recognize the value the system can offer beyond just displaying artwork, said Ron Orner, the company’s president. “The great achievement of Pennswood Village’s art policy is that it allows residents to make individual visual statements within a cohesive community framework, just as homeowners do in neighborhoods of similar houses,” he said.

It’s a fulfillment of art’s potential to make shared living spaces more personal and home-like.”

When it comes to what is allowed to be displayed, Atkins said there hasn’t been any problems but that they did work with the residents to develop a guideline policy. “We don’t comment on what they hang as long as it’s appropriate and viewable for the public,” he said. “We don’t want anything that would be disturbing to other residents, like political content for example. But the only other requirement we have is that the art work must be framed.”

Visitors, residents, and their families now have the opportunity to view everyone’s artwork and collections and the feedback has been positive,” Atkins said. “For us, it’s become a hallmark of our community. Not only does it allow personal expression of the residents, it gives each hallway its own character.” 


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