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Nursing Sundial
Bullfinch Lawn, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mass
Bronze sundial mounted on Chelmsford granite pedestal
Height: 8' Diameter: 10’
Donated by Massachusetts General Hospital Nurses Alumnae

Nursing Sundial Sculpture to Honor Alumnae Nurses at the Massachusetts General Hospital
I would like to tell you about the sculpture that I have created to honor not only the alumnae nurses at the MGH but the nursing profession as a whole. The green space between the two birch trees across from the Wang Ambulatory Center seemed a perfect place for a sundial.

The earliest known sundial has been dated at about 1500 BC. Evidence of their existence has been found in Babylonia, Greece, Egypt and China at about that time. Although the formal profession of nursing is much more a modern notion, nursing as a concept is as old as the oldest civilization known. The sundial represents that timelessness and further the 24 hours, 7 day a week spent by nurses doing their job.

The bronze dial is 7 feet in diameter. It is round and represents the cycle of life. Nurses of today are at the beginning of life and at the end. This diameter also represents the seven days many perceive it took to create the world. The granite pedestal that holds the sundial is 10 feet in diameter and made from Chelmsford granite, a native stone having a thermal finish. It is 18 inches high, a height for telling time with ease, for sitting upon or for sitting on the grass and leaning against. This sundial will also, indeed, tell time, sun time!

The space below the Gnomon* is the part of the dial that represents night. On the left side there is a quote from Florence Nightingale - “Nursing is an Art; the finest of the Fine Arts”. On the other side , “Always, always more to see, more to learn, more to improve both care and cure.” by Ruth Sleeper 1966 . At the bottom of the Gnoman is an exact replica of the MGH nurses’ cap.

The figures in the Gnoman represent past, present and future. They also represent growth as each figure shown is larger than the last. The first figure (past) is shown carrying a lamp, indicating Florence Nightingale and the beginning of nursing as we think of it today. The second figure (present) is shown holding a book, indicating the important educational and intellectual changes in the profession. The third figure (future) is shown carrying a Globe indicating the multiracial nature of nurses. Also, nurses travel more and more all over the world, helping and teaching. They will do it in reality and virtually through the internet. The Institute for Health Professionals is a major vehicle to that end.

I have used the Greek goddess as the image for these three figures. Examples are: Athena (Minerva) who was the goddess of wisdom. Aphrodite (Venus) who was the goddess of love and beauty. Artemis (Diana) who was the goddess of hunting, but protected young creatures and looked after maidens in childbirth. And so, you women in the nursing profession are now shown publicly and forever as Greek Goddesses on a pedestal!

* A Gnomon is the triangular plate set perpendicular to the center of the dial that tells time.



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