October 1957 — Art Studio’s Half Century of Service #throwbackthursdays
This year, the Art Studio looks back with a quiet pride on a full half-century of service to the Mayo Clinic and the medical profession in general.
The application of drawing to medicine actually began here in 1905, when an artist from another clinic sketched pathologic specimens for the Mayos. But it was not until 1907, with employment of Florence Byrnes, that an Art Studio here really began to take shape.
Miss Byrnes was succeeded in 1909 by Mrs. Dorothy Peters; she was succeeded in 1912 by Eleanora Fry, who was to be with the Studio until 1932. Cora Olson and Myra Walker were assistants in the ‘teens and early 20’s, and a local man named Ralph Sweet (later medical illustrator at the University of California (trained here in 1916).
In 1917, another young man joined the unit. He was Russell Drake, for many years now the chief of medical illustration work here. At Dr. Will’s suggestion, young Russ Drake put his skill at biological and zoological drawing to work at the Clinic Art Studio for a year, then went to Johns Hopkins to study under the brilliant Max Brodel. Drake returned to Rochester, began the career that has led to recognition as belonging in the very first rank of medical illustrators of the world.
The great contribution of illustration to medicine, Mr. Drake explains earnestly, is in education. Illustration aids the teacher-physician to share his knowledge with many7 others through books and papers. Illustration is of great value in diagrams and graphs, through which speakers at medical meetings demonstrate their findings to their peers.
And then there is the matter of professional reading, of the journals. No physician needs reminding that the profession is producing a flood of valuable words on medical advances. Only with difficulty does he find time to keep up with the literature in his specialty; he simply cannot know all of the advances in all fields. A good medical illustration may give this busy physician as much (perhaps more, Mr. Drake is inclined to think) valuable information than pages of text.
There are 30,000 entries in the Studio’s ledger book, dating back to 1905. This irreplaceable source material is indexed by physician and year, cross-indexed anatomically. The Studio adds to this file annually at the rate of some 500 diagrams and graphs, 400 other drawings.