New Mural Depicts Jewish Contributions To History Of Medicine

December 15, 1998

LOS ANGELES, CA (December 15, 1998) -- Cedars Sinai Medical Center, of Los Angeles, California, announced that a 12 x 71 ft. mural, called "Jewish Contributions to Medicine," is currently being completed, which will adorn the wall of its Harvey Morse Auditorium. A dedication ceremony is scheduled to take place Sunday, May 2, 1999.

"The figures in the mural occupy a multi-level cut-away architectural stage in which they interact in various ways depicting their contributions," says its artist, award-winning muralist, Terry Schoonhoven. "Most of the figures interact with each other, only a couple look directly at the viewer. They're involved in things like reading, researching, talking to each other -- they're busy, not aware of being painted. In fact, that's been one of the most challenging things about this project. For the very earliest contributors we don't have pictorial photographic sources for the figures, and for many others, we only have a set, static head shot. We've had to do a lot of research, using the sources available to us, and use those things to convey a sense of their personalities as well as their contribution."

"The mural started as a solution to a problem," says Joseph Mitchell, a board member since the time of Cedars-Sinai's formation and past Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the Board, who is donating the funds for this project. "We built this huge auditorium at the Medical Center, and it bothered me that it was so stark and bare. It's a heavily used part of the Medical Center, and it looked like a warehouse. When it was pointed out to me that there were simply no funds for a project of this kind, I immediately offered to finance it."

"The mural is more than just a mural. It documents in an effective and beautiful manner the Jewish contribution to the history of medicine," says Stanley Grinstein, Chairman of the Art Council. "Usually art is used to create a healing environment, but this project is something more -- it's got historical value. There has been no recent definitive book on this subject, nor has there been such a mural."

Dr. Leon Morgenstern, former Chief of Surgery at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and Chairman of the Mural Committee, commented, "While the Medical Center is best known as a cutting edge research and treatment facility, it also has a remarkable art program and collection. The art emphasis began as an adjunct of the healing process. This original mural depicting "Jewish Contributions to Medicine," will be the latest major addition to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's art collection.

"The Mural Committee started out with the history of medicine as a theme, but it was just too vast; we had to narrow it down," said Dr. Morgenstern. "We focused on Jewish Contributions to Medicine, all of which have been extremely significant. They start with such basic concepts as the Sabbath (a day of rest) and hygiene, and continue on through history to present times with four women Nobel Prize winners. We were amazed at the wealth of contributions, and the fact that there are no recent comprehensive books dealing with this subject. In our research we discovered over 100 significant contributors, but had to limit it to the 20 or 30 who seemed the most influential. We plan to develop a brochure to explain the contributions the mural represents for visitors, and writing a book based on our research which will include other contributors as well as those depicted in the mural. Nobelists Dr. Gertrude Elion and Dr. Rosalyn Yalow, who are depicted in the mural, have been invited to join us for the unveiling as our honored guests."

The mural will become part of Cedars Sinai Medical Center's extensive art collection -- the largest of its kind in the country -- that is displayed throughout the facility, in keeping with its philosophy that beauty creates a healing environment. Videos on art are shown on its Art and Relaxation Channel, art kits are distributed to patients, starting with pediatrics, and a healing garden is currently being constructed in the Information Plaza for patients, families and visitors.
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Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is a world-renowned research and treatment facility, with over 7,000 employees.

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Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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