The Art of Anatomy: Medical Illustration at the Medical Center, 1920-1990

An Exhibit from Archives & Special Collections • Hammer Building • Lower Level 2 • Sept. 24 – Dec. 21, 2018

Archives & Special Collections of the A.C. Long Health Sciences Library is pleased to present a new exhibit, The Art of Anatomy: Medical Illustration at the Medical Center, 1920-1990. The show highlights the artistry and creativity of the talented illustrators employed at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center (now the Columbia University Irving Medical Center) during the 20th century.

Medical illustration flourished at the Medical Center throughout the century: anatomy, ophthalmology, pathology, and surgery are just some of the departments we know employed at least one artist.  The exhibit highlights some of the more prominent among them: Alfred Feinberg (pathology & anatomy); Carl Kellner (anatomy); Emil “Gus” Bethke and Marjorie Quinlan Bethke (ophthalmology); Ivan Summers (surgery); and Robert J. Demarest (numerous departments).  Dating from about 1920, before the Medical Center opened, until circa 1990, a year after Demarest retired, the exhibit features striking and often beautiful depictions of human anatomy, medical conditions, and surgical operations.

Highlights include two wax anatomical models created by Kellner dating from 1930s-40s; Ivan Summer’s watercolor illustrations of plastic surgery operations undertaken for Columbia’s pioneer plastic surgeon, Jerome P. Webster; stunning, full-color depictions of ophthalmic conditions by the Bethkes; and numerous drawings on a wide range of medical subjects by the prolific Demarest, one of the pre-eminent medical illustrators of his era who is still enjoying an active and creative retirement.  This exhibit celebrates their work both as artists and as collaborators in a great scientific endeavor.

The Art of Anatomy: Medical Illustration at the Medical Center, 1920-1990 runs from Sept. 24 through Dec. 21, 2018. It can be seen on Lower Level 2 of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Hammer Health Sciences Building, 701 West 168th St.  Hammer is a 24/7 space accessible to anyone with a valid Columbia University or New York-Presbyterian Hospital ID card.  For others wishing to view the exhibit, please contact to arrange a visit.

Above: Rupture of the Choroid, March 26, 1934, by Emil “Gus” Bethke, Department of Ophthalmology Illustrations, Archives & Special Collections, A. C. Long Health Sciences Library