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Harvard Teaching Hospital to Remove Paintings of White Doctors to Focus on Diversity

JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/Getty Images
JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/Getty Images

A Harvard University Medical School teaching hospital announced this week that it will be removing paintings of white former doctors in an alleged effort to place a greater emphasis on diversity.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard University Medical School teaching hospital, announced this week that they will be relocating portraits of the hospital’s former doctors because they are white. According to reports, many of the paintings have spent decades in the same spot in the Bornstein Amphitheater at the hospital. Some were placed on the wall as recently as last month.

The hospital’s president, Dr. Betsy Nabel, explained that the decision was made to ensure that non-white doctors don’t feel unwelcome at the hospital and its facilities. The paintings will be removed from the amphitheater wall and moved to various locations around the hospital such as in conference rooms and patient lobbies.

“I have watched the faces of individuals as they have come into Bornstein,’’ Nabel told reporters last week. “I have watched them look at the walls. I read on their faces ‘Interesting. but I am not represented here.’ That got me thinking maybe it’s time that we think about respecting our past in a different way.’’

“It is vitally important to know that the lack of diversity seen in art at HMS reflects the school’s past, not its present,” a spokesperson for the dean said in an emailed statement to the Boston Globe. “Change is coming.”

“It is OK with me,’’ said Dr. Michael Zinner, whose portrait was hung on the wall last month. Zinner served as the hospital’s surgery chief from 1994 to 2016. Dr. Michael Gimbrone, pathology chair from 2001 to 2012, also said that he is fine with his portrait being removed from the wall. “The times they are a-changin’,” Gimbrone said.

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