McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Etched glass wall donated by alumni family

Published: May 29, 2008
Wynn Bensen and Bill Bensen
From left: Wynn Bensen and Bill Bensen

A large art piece of etched glass panels designated as Canadian cultural property has been installed at McMaster University, a donation of a family in honour of four generations of its graduates.

Twelve glass panels with images and landscapes of ten provinces and two territories of Canada are inside a 53-foot long glass wall of the Jan and Mien Heersink Reading Pavilion of the Health Sciences Library. Created by Canadian crystal artist Mark Raynes Roberts, the work is called "A View to Our Heritage" and communicates the tapestry of the country.

"The art allows us to enhance a beautiful room which is designed to encourage an openness to knowledge," said John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences. "This reminds us of the world beyond science and of the vastness and openness of our Canadian heritage."

At a reception the panels were dedicated by donors and Hamilton art collectors Bill and Wynn Bensen in tribute to the members of the Bensen family who have made McMaster their academic home since 1905.

Roy Carlyle Bensen received two degrees from McMaster in 1907 and 1908, as well as the Chancellor’s Gold Medal as the best student. He returned to McMaster as a professor when the University moved to Hamilton in 1930, and was chair of the Department of Philosophy until 1941. Roy’s son Harold Bensen did his undergraduate studies at McMaster before his medical degree in London, ON. Harold’s son Bill was in the second graduating class of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, and Bill’s son Rob has three degrees from McMaster, including an MBA.

"This medical library is the soul of this building, of the Faculty of Health Sciences," said Dr. Bill Bensen, who is a clinical professor of medicine at the McMaster medical school. "We want the art and culture to surprise and stimulate everyone, particularly our students."

The etched panels were originally commissioned for the executive offices of the CIBC and artist Mark Raynes Roberts has approved the new location, as they may be fully appreciated and seen from all angles in the public space.
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