Thursday, February 08, 2007

Men and milestones in medicine

This year marks the 140th anniversary of the start of medical education here in Oregon (by orthodox accounts; surely, Native Americans were educating their own in healing arts long before any formal medical school was founded.)

Back in 1967, the state celebrated the centennial of this beginning with the commissioning of a mural. The resulting artwork, dubbed Men and Milestones in Medicine, was seen today by a rather larger-than-usual percentage of OHSU employees, as we all filed into the OHSU Auditorium to participate in the town hall meeting on strategic planning. While many may not have looked up, we all nevertheless passed directly beneath the painting, which hangs over the auditorium entrance.

For those who have never studied the painting, or who have studied it and wondered at its meaning, a large poster in the Subject Files here literally plots out the major elements. The buildings shown on the left are (top to bottom): Jason Lee Mission (1834); Willamette University Medical School (1867); Willamette's later building at Couch and 15th Streets (1885); and the University of Oregon Medical School at 23rd and Lovejoy (1889). The Marquam Hill campus, as of 1967, is shown in the upper center of the canvas, from the old Library building at the top to the Medical School Hospital (now OHSU Hospital) at the bottom.

The painting was executed by Northwest artist John Sherrill Houser, a graduate of Lewis & Clark College. After its completion, the painting went on tour around the state, as we learn in the small blurb contained in the centennial booklet, Men and milestones in medicine: 100 years of medical education in Oregon, written by Thelma Wilson (who just happened to be an employee of the public relations department here at the Medical School).

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