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A Major Gift of Art and History: U-M Receives 45 Significant Medical Paintings From Pfizer
Date:11/30/2007

U-M Health System will work with U-M Museum of Art to display selected works by Michigan painter Robert Thom, originally painted for Parke-Davis

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 50 years ago, a Michigan-based pharmaceutical company commissioned a Michigan painter to depict dozens of great moments in medical history, from ancient Egypt to the United States in the 20th century.

Within a few years, the entire nation knew the paintings by Robert A. Thom. Reproductions appeared in magazines and doctors' offices, and a book of them was given to thousands of new physicians. With a Norman Rockwell-style realism, the works epitomized the optimism of the time in which they were painted, and the nation's faith in post-World War II medical and scientific triumphs.

Now, 45 of those paintings are coming home to Michigan, to an institution that will share them with the public as never before.

The University of Michigan has received Thom's medical history paintings as a gift from their most recent owner, Pfizer Inc. A committee from the U-M Health System and U-M Museum of Art is now planning to exhibit many of them in public spaces across the U-M medical campus, with financial help from art-loving donors.

"These works hold both historical and cultural significance for the entire field of medicine, and special significance for our institution because of the artist's ties to our state," says Robert Kelch, M.D., U-M executive vice president for medical affairs and CEO of UMHS. "In fact, when I graduated from the U-M Medical School, each of us received a book of reproductions of these very paintings, which I've kept to this day. We're very grateful and honored that Pfizer has chosen us to preserve these paintings, and to share them with our faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors."

James Steward, director of UMMA, adds, "These paintings are a remarkable product of their time, but are no l
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SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
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