The Art of Baylor: Galea’s limestone reliefs

Students come to Baylor College of Medicine to learn the art of medicine, but if they look closely they may get an art education as well.

From the front of the Cullen Building to the portraits that line the hallways, art is all around. From time to time on Momentum we’ll take a look at the history or significance behind a certain piece.

First up is the art deco limestone relief crafted by Edward Galea between 1946 and 1947 and found on the front of the Cullen Building at One Baylor Plaza. There are multiple pieces spread across the building, each depicting a medical allegory. These artistic reliefs weave a foundation of Greek and Roman mythological icons into scenes of modern medical achievements to tell a story that embodies the history of medicine.

For example, the Greek god Aesculapius can be seen wielding a snake-entwined staff, which remains a symbol of medicine to this day. Why snakes? The Greeks believed that snakes were sacred beings that harbored wisdom, healing and resurrection properties. One myth describes a snake licking Aesculapius’ ears clean and teaching him all the secrets of the medical universe.

See close-up pictures of many of the reliefs found on the Cullen Building below.

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-By Christine Moldovan and Andy Phifer

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