Bernstein Sculptures Dedicated at CC
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.