Historical Statues Re-Emerge
New York Medical College’s (NYMC) menagerie of storybook-themed animals—which are covered throughout the winter—were recently unveiled for spring.
Sprinkled throughout campus, the statues may seem whimsical at first glance. But closer reflection reveals each historic artifact has been purposefully placed, maintained or highlighted via signage as a way of paying homage to NYMC’s storied past and to represent the College’s longstanding commitment to caring for the complete person, both mind and spirit. In 1931, long before it housed NYMC’s administrative offices, the Sunshine Cottage building was a 35-bed children's tuberculosis hospital, adorned with animal and nature motifs that symbolized health and happiness.
If you’ve never paid attention to these vestiges of the past, take note:
As you enter the Sunshine Cottage’s main entrance, look up. Above the main door sits a rabbit statue, reminiscent of the children’s storybook The Wind in the Willow. Until 2012, the rabbit was placed in a wooden box and hidden from sight, initially deemed too elementary to decorate our College grounds.
Continue looking up as you peruse the building and note the animals gracing the windows and along the pediments. Storybook-esque animals similarly adorn the fence encompassing Sunshine Cottage.
Next, follow the footpath just beyond the Basic Sciences Building, and you’ll encounter the iconic frog and fish-footman statues. These fanciful footmen were originally located in the Sunshine Cottage hospital’s grounds to brighten the spirits of the sick children as a way to boost their recovery time.
Finally, head over to the Medical Education Center (MEC) driveway to see the turkey sculptures. These two sculptures once stood guard to the stone pillars directly in front of Sunshine Cottage and after being in storage for years, they were moved back outside.
These statues have been refurbished to bring NYMC’s values to the surface. So, the next time you pass by them, take a second to look beyond their whimsical charm and reflect upon the deeper meaning buried within.