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Nursing Sundial, Nancy Schön


The artist talked with many nurses and alumnae to design the Sundial incorporating the concepts of nursing.  She gave us a brief summary of the reason behind the design and the symbolism represented  The following is taken from that summary.  Nursing as a concept is as old as civilization and sundials have been around since about 1500 BC.  The sundial represents timelessness and the fact that nurses work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The bronze dial is 7 feet in diameter.  It is round and represents the cycle of life.  Nurses of today ar e at the beginning of life and at the end.  This sundial will also tell time! The Gnomon is the triangular plate set perpendicular to the center of the dial that tells time and is shown and described below.  At the back of the Gnomon is an MGH cap and the quotations of Florence Nightingale and Ruth Sleeper.  The granite pedestal is 10 feet in diameter and made from Chelmsford granite, a native stone having a thermal finish.  It is 18 inches high for sitting or for sitting on the grass and leaning against.

The Gnomon figures represents past, present, and future as well as growth.  The first figure (past) is shown carrying a lamp, indicating Florence Nightingale. The second figure (present) is shown holding a book, indicating the important intellectual and educational changes in the profession.  The third figure (future) is shown carrying a Globe representing the universality and multiracial aspects of nursing and nurses, and that nursing and nursing education exist in both the real and expanding virtual worlds.  The three are represented by Greek goddess:  Athena goddess of wisdom, Aphrodite goddess of lo ve and beauty, and Artemis goddess of hunting who protected the young and looked after maidens in childbirth.

Photograph courtesy of Nancy Schön.  Used by permission.