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New public art installation celebrates nursing’s long history at Harborview Medical Center


Date: December 14, 2012
Media Contact: Ashley Wiggin,, 206-221-2456

Harborview Medical Center celebrated its long history of nursing with the dedication of a new public art project, the “Nurses Tunnel” on Wednesday, December 12th as part of a larger event honoring its nurses. In her opening speech, Harborview Chief Nursing Officer and UW School of Nursing alumna Darcy Jaffe, BSN ’83, MN ’89, proudly explained the purpose of the tunnel was to “celebrate the legacy of nursing at Harborview.”

“We hope that this tunnel will help people to understand what it’s like to be a Harborview nurse,” said Jaffe. “That’s something different.”

Nurses TunnelNurses TunnelHarborview Hall, which was home to UW School of Nursing students from the early 1930’s until 1961, is connected to Harborview Medical Center via a long hallway. The former nursing students recall using the tunnel for many purposes, from getting to their daily shifts to sneaking back into their rooms if they were out after curfew.

The Nurses Tunnel project, commissioned by King County and 4Culture, began over three years ago under the watchful eyes of artists Lois Shelton and Maggie Smith. With the help of nursing history consultant and School of Nursing Alumna Marjorie DesRosier, MN ’79, PhD ‘93, UW School of Nursing alumni, students, local nursing agencies and many others, Shelton and Smith created a project intended to capture the dedication, passion and long history of nursing at Harborview.

“We designed this space as a way to exemplify the image of nursing,” said Shelton. “The voices make nurses seem omnipresent even though there aren’t images in the hallway. It’s a great representation of nursing—nurses are always there, even if we can’t always see them.”

While the tunnel has morphed into just another bustling hallway as Harborview as grown, the tunnel remains a vital piece of history to the nurses who lived and worked at Harborview. The new art installation celebrates and captures the memories of being a Harborview nurse over time through voice recordings, photos displayed on a video screen and a changing light display in the hallway. The artists note that even if you were to travel down the hallway multiple times per day, as many do, no two experiences with the art project would be the same.

As the dedication ceremony drew to a close, Jaffe recalled the ongoing legacy of nursing at Harborview and the incredible role that nurses have played over time.

“We are all proud to be doing what we are doing,” she said. “We are all proud to be, and have been, Harborview nurses.”

You can read more about the UW School of Nursing’s long history of nursing at Harborview and the commissioned project here. Check out a great video about the history of UW School of Nursing students at Harborview hall here and photos from the dedication ceremony here.


The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently a top-rated nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 2 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2011, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service. For more information, visit