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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

Bernstein Sculptures Dedicated at CC

A man and four women stand alongside a sculpture featuring 2 wooden towers

Bernstein family and friends gather at one of two sculptures by Dr. Lionel Bernstein that they donated to NIH.

Photo: Chia-Chi Charlie Chang

Arias in suit and bowtie gestures at the podium as Gilman watches from behind

CC CEO Dr. James Gilman (l) and Dr. Win Arias speak about art in a hospital’s environment and Bernstein’s unique contributions to NIH as scientist, administrator and sculptor.

Photo: Chia-Chi Charlie Chang

wide shot of Gilman at lecturn with seated attendees looking on and atrium windows behind them

The dedication ceremony was held on the CRC’s 7th fl. atrium.

Photo: Chia-Chi Charlie Chang

b&w headshot scan of Bernstein

Dr. Lionel Bernstein, from the NIH Record 1978

Two women, one African American and in PHS uniform, stand beside a wood sculpture

CC patient representative Capt. Antoinette Jones (l) greets Bernstein’s wife, Jodie.

Photo: Chia-Chi Charlie Chang

several programs fanned on display

The dedication had been postponed due to the pandemic.

Photo: Chia-Chi Charlie Chang

Two wood sculptures by Dr. Lionel M. Bernstein were dedicated at the Clinical Center (CC) on Oct. 6 in a ceremony held on the 7th fl. atrium, outside the CC chapel. A gastroenterologist born in Chicago in 1923, Bernstein had a long career at NIH, including serving as director of the National Library of Medicine’s Lister Hill Center from 1978 to 1983.

The art was donated by Bernstein’s family in October 2019 to promote a greater understanding of the intricate relationship between the arts and science and to enhance the aesthetics of the hospital environment. The dedication ceremony had been postponed for several years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the ceremony, CC CEO Dr. James Gilman offered remarks, along with former CC Director Dr. John Gallin, close Bernstein friend and longtime NIH investigator Dr. Irwin Arias, Chaplain John Pollack and CC patient representative Capt. Antoinette Jones. Bernstein’s wife, Jodie, also spoke.

Inspired by artist Henry Moore, Bernstein created his first sculpture after a trip to London with Jodie in 1970. That same year, Bernstein, who was also a specialist in internal medicine, was named associate director for extramural programs at what was then the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases.

By June 1978, he was serving as assistant deputy director for research and education at NLM, receiving a Public Health Service Commendation Medal “in recognition of his development of a prototype computerized information transfer system for health care practitioners.” Later that summer, he was named Lister Hill Center director.

When Bernstein started sculpting at age 46, he began to chip away at a six-foot-high piece of oak with chisels; frustrated at the slow pace of the work, he switched to a chainsaw. He also worked in metals and soapstone. He had his first gallery show in 2017 at age 93. Bernstein died in 2019.

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