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Harlem "Mural Pavilion" Preserves New Deal Remnants

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Art recovered from the past was unveiled Thursday as part of the future of healthcare in Harlem. NY1's Arlene Borenstein filed the following report.

A picture of old Harlem, Georgette Seabrook's "Recreation in Harlem", is colorful and inviting. It was rediscovered after years hidden behind sheetrock.

"In some instances we remove the canvas from the wall and in other instances we removed the walls," said Evergreen Paint Studio Chief Conservator Gillian Randall.

Seabrook's piece is one of five murals unveiled Thursday as part of Harlem Hospital Center's new mural pavilion. All of the artwork is from the 1930's and was at risk of being destroyed.

"Originally these murals were located in buildings scheduled to be demolished as part of out campus modernization project," said Associate Executive Director Strategic Planning for Harlem Hospital Center Deborah Thornhill.

The murals were created as part of the federal government's Works Progress Administration. The New Deal program put millions of unemployed people -- including artists -- to work on public projects during the depression.

Seventy years later, Thornhill and community members have worked to restore the murals. The artwork adorns an atrium-style gallery at the hospital. It was officially unveiled as part of the new $325 million healthcare facility.

"Once work is completed the hospital will have new adult and pediatric emergency departments, a redesigned woman's imaging center, six modernized operating rooms, four special procedure rooms and a newly designated anesthesia care unit," noted Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Well-known hip-hop artist and producer Kasseem "Swizz Beats" Dean also contributed to the effort.

"These three spots right here, that when people come in this beautiful place they can feel inspired, they can feel encouraged especially for the youth. I want to represent the youth," Dean said.

Through private and public donors the hospital raised more than $4 million. The work took eight years. But some still needs to be done as the hospital is still trying to raise about $400,000 to finish restoring Seabrooke's creation.

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