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New York 1939 World's Fair: Medicine and Public Health, Science and Education Building Complex

Flushing, NY

South facade

(1) Modern Medicine, 1939

Commissioned by: Mayers, Murray & PhillipMedium: keimExecuted by: RambuschNonextant

Detail of map from Official Guide Book – New York World

Detail of map from Official Guide Book – New York World's Fair 1940 showing location of Mayer, Murray & Phillip's Medicine and Public Health, Science and Education Building Complex

To-scale model of the Medicine and Public Health, Science and Education Buildings with the placement of Meière

To-scale model of the Medicine and Public Health, Science and Education Buildings with the placement of Meière's murals indicated as follows: (1) Modern Medicine (2) Primitive Man and Modern Man (3) Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine and the Dragon of Ignorance (4) Comte de Rochambeau (5) Tadeusz Kosciuszko (6) The Family (7) The School (8) The Picnic (9) Man between the Past and the Future

(1) Medicine and Public Health, Science and Education Building Complex filmed by Hildreth Meière, 1939. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Hildreth Meière designed nine murals for the exterior walls of the Medicine and Public Health, Science and Education Building Complex designed by Mayers, Murray & Phillip.1 On the south facade of the larger building, she designed a mural thirty-six feet high and thirty-four feet wide depicting a doctor in a laboratory holding a test tube and pointing out all the resources of Modern Medicine, symbolized by a sterilizer, retort and test tube. Groups of ailing people to the doctor’s right underscore the need for new discoveries. The theme was in keeping with the motto of the fair: to build the world of tomorrow with the tools we have today.2

Modern Medicine showing doctor in laboratory

Modern Medicine showing doctor in laboratory

Modern Medicine showing people in need of medical advances

Modern Medicine showing people in need of medical advances

Rambusch executed Meière’s Art Deco-style mural in a medium called keim, which reacted with mineral substrates in the wall to become a part of it, thereby creating a poster-like effect. This expensive German product did not solve the problem of fading murals. As Meière herself pointed out:

. . . no satisfactory, permanent outdoor paint to be used on a surface containing lime has yet been developed. . . . In plain English, the murals are fading.3
1

On the facade between Meière’s murals of Modern Medicine and Primitive Man and Civilized Man are three large sculptures by Edmund Amateis. He used “American mythological figures to represent virtues: Humility (the Devil ‘chastising Texan Strap Buckner’), Efficiency (Paul Bunyan), and Benevolence (Johnny Appleseed),” xroads.virginia.edu.

2

For a full discussion, see Catherine Coleman Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik, The Art Deco Murals of Hildreth Meière (New York: Andrea Monfried Editions, 2014): 183-84.

3

Hildreth Meière, “Working for a World’s Fair,” Journal of the Associated Alumnae of the Sacred Heart 4 (1939-40): 38.