Color and Places: Hugh Morton Photographs in the North Carolina Cancer Hospital

Sometimes you have to make exceptions. A little more than a year ago, I was contacted by the designers assigned to decorate the interior of the then-under construction (and now newly opened) NC Cancer Hospital. They were seeking Hugh Morton photographs of the North Carolina landscape to be made into very large panels for public areas of the hospital. This was a great opportunity to place some of Hugh Morton’s photographs in highly visible locations within a prominent and important facility, and to assist our sister institution. The problem was, a little more than year ago, we were a little less than knowledgeable about what photographs were where in the collection. (That is one of the reasons the collection was closed to researchers until very recently). What to do?
We made an exception. I explained the status of the collection and its limited access at that point, but also asked the designer to go through Morton’s published books for images that we could try to find or approximate. Once they compiled that list, I turned it over to Elizabeth, who combed through photographs she could access to find suitable images. The design firm made their selections, Elizabeth turned over the material to the Carolina Digital Library and Archives scanning technician, and then we waited a year to see the results.
Earlier this month, Elizabeth and I had the opportunity to tour the building and see the installations. To say it is a beautiful building is not saying enough, and Morton’s photographs are wonderful splashes of color and place that contribute to the overall atmosphere inside.
The photographs you see here illustrate a few of those installations. In the photograph above, Elizabeth stands next to a very long panoramic composite mural that repeats slices of several Morton images. Below is the lobby and information desk inside the main entrance (featuring a Morton mountain panorama).
Here’s a couple of installations behind reception desks.  Sorry . . . the hospital is designed to let in lots of the outside light and views, so it was impossible to photograph during the day without getting reflections!
Shown above with her back to the camera is our tour guide Ellen de Graffenreid, Director of Communications & Marketing for the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. (Thank you, Ellen!)
If this next image isn’t too tiny on your computer screen, you can play “Where’s Elizabeth?”!
It was particularly satisfying to tour this impressive facility and see how Hugh Morton’s photographs add to the overall aesthetic of the building, especially since he was a victim of cancer himself.

8 thoughts on “Color and Places: Hugh Morton Photographs in the North Carolina Cancer Hospital”

  1. These beautiful Morton scenes in the North Carolina Cancer Hospital are the latest in a long line of interesting places where Morton photographs have appeared. In an October 14, 1980 press release from Hugh Morton, Jr., advertising one of his dad’s exhibits, he lists the following places: “The Encyclopedia Britannica, in national advertisements, in scores of sports publications and on calendars, jig saw puzzles, album covers, road maps, book jackets, greeting cards, note paper, billboards, wall paper, catalogues and post cards.” And if I may, let me add a few additional places: Tee shirts, bubblegum cards, gameday tickets and programs, paper weights, CD and VHS covers, the facade in the west end of Kenan Stadium and on tabletops in Lenoir Hall. I’m sure the list could, and will go on.

  2. I am looking forward to seeing the lovely new building. I would be surprised if DeeDee Lineberger McKay did not originate the idea of using Hugh’s pictures; she and Peter are dear friends and near neighbors in Linville. What a wonderful effect. Hugh would have been very pleased.
    I can’t think of any use that was not made of his pictures; add school book illustrations and magazine covers to your list. A picture he took on Grandfather Mountain the day we had our first date was used in National Geographic. Back in those days (1945) before air pollution, you could see, to quote Mr. Joe Hartley, “As far as your eye would let you.”

  3. I remember searching through boxes and boxes of slides and negatives for those pictures. They look fabulous. I might have to make a trip to see them in person.

  4. With cancer being the 2 leading cause of death, I want to see it cured. I don’t know if this is entirely possible, but we do have a starting place. We can learn and teach the signs and symptoms of cancer in order to achieve earlier diagnoses. Some cancers are curable if found soon enough. This is why I strive to teach the signs of cancer! Thank you for this site and please continue to teach!

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