Elmhurst Hospital Center Mural – Queens NY

Project type: Art Works, Murals
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As of 2009, this 1938 WPA mural by William Palmer entitled “The Development of Medicine” is located in the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens. It may have originally been installed in the Queens General Hospital (now the Queens Hospital Center).

According to a 1964 interview with the artist:

“It was stated in a recent book on the WPA – that the panel Controlled Medicine was in effect a plea for and propaganda for socialized medicine. This statement is without any basis of fact, and the author never contacted me for my analysis panel. To put the record straight – the mural Development of Medicine was painted to show the ignorance, superstition and fear of “uncontrolled medicine” – the great historical contributions and discoveries which lead up to the scientific and enlightened medicine and hospital care of the 30s, as shown in Controlled Medicine. The theme of this panel shows the equipment, etc., used by the hospital in prevention of disease and the treatment of the patient. Socialized medicine was not in my vocabulary in 1936, and certainly in doing my research for the work it was never considered or mentioned by any hospital authority. The real purpose of the murals at Queens was to serve two main purposes – one, to give the waiting patients in the “in-coming and out-going patients rooms” something to look at and to inform them of the history and background of treatment – and two, Dr. Kogel, the Superintendent of Queens used the panels in this lectures to student nurses on the history of medicine.”

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Location Info

79-01 Broadway
Queens, NY 11373

Coordinates: 40.7451948, -73.8856028

2 comments on “Elmhurst Hospital Center Mural – Queens NY

  1. harris sterman

    the mural was in queens general the A building on the second floor by the surgical floor suites
    when they renovated the floor in the 1989-90 time period the mural was taken down
    the panel was very long and i think you are missing the first and last panels
    there was alot of commotion/action in the mural

    if i remember correctly there panel on the left had an entrance to the operating room and i rememeber a police officer in the one of the panels . the last panel i think had a exit door in it as well

    i was a resident in general surgery at the time and when they took it down i wonder what was going to happen to it and that it might “disappear”

    i was aways sorry i never took a picture of it

  2. Rick Luftglass

    There were two large murals by William C. Palmer painted at Queens General Hospital. Both still exist and may be viewed at different locations:

    – “Functions of a Hospital” (1934) is still there (now named NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens, in Jamaica, Queens).
    Harris: this is the one you are remembering, not the one in the photo above. Functions of a Hospital is almost 20 feet wide, and does indeed have policemen on the far left, and then lots of commotion. It was at Queens General Hospital, was lost in storage for about thirty years, then rescued, restored, and reinstalled on the ground floor.

    – “Development of Medicine” (1937) was moved to Elmhurst Hospital (now named NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst). The image in this page (the one Palmer is speaking about in the oral history) is the final panel of the Development of Medicine mural series (currently configured as eight discrete panels, but originally it was configured in about 14 sections or scenes on columns, walls and corners of the registration entrance and waiting rooms. Today, at Elmhurst, Development of Medicine is in a hallway to the left of the main entrance from Broadway. The particular panel pictured above is alternately titled “Controlled Medicine” or “Preventative Medicine.”

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