On September 27, 2012, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation honored Dr. John WV Cordice, Jr., a member of the Harlem Hospital surgical team that saved the life of the Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was stabbed at a book-signing event in Harlem, in 1958.
HHC's Global Ambassador, artist, philanthropist Kasseem "Swizz Beatz" Dean hosted the event, which was held at the new Mural Pavilion at Harlem Hospital Center.
The Mural Pavilion is a new, state-of-the-art medical facility that stretches along Lenox Avenue and features a replica of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) mural in a spectacular multi-story glass façade.
The Pavilion integrates the hospital’s outpatient, inpatient, and emergency room services, bringing a state-of-the-art medical facility to the Harlem community. The six-story building connects to the hospital’s existing Martin Luther King Pavilion and the Ron Brown Ambulatory Care Pavilion.
Adjacent to the Mural Pavilion lobby is a gallery, open to the public, which displays a series of murals created by African American artists during the 1930s. These historic artworks were previously located in the hospital’s New Nurses Residence and the Women’s Pavilion.
In eight years, the WPA commissioned more than 500 murals solely for New York City’s public hospitals. A number of these murals were commissioned for Harlem Hospital Center, and represented the first major federal government commissions awarded to African American artists. The Harlem murals include:
Magic in Medicine - Charles Alston
Modern Medicine - Charles Alston
Pursuit of Happiness - Vertis Hayes
Modern Surgery and Anesthesia - Alfred Crimi
Recreation in Harlem - Georgette Seabrooke
Over the decades, these murals, painted in the modernist abstraction-style of the time, suffered the effects of both age and environmental assault. Removal and restoration of these historical works became an urgent priority. In October 2006, EverGreene Painting Studio was selected to begin the work of removal, repair, restoration, and reinstallation of the murals.
Four murals have since been fully restored and returned, and are now on permanent exhibit in a specially-constructed Mural Gallery that was designed as part of the new building. The 1937 mural by Georgette Seabrooke - Recreation in Harlem – is on display at the Mural Pavilion’s Atrium while it awaits restoration.