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Ode to Joy Takes Flight at Mills-Peninsula

Posted on Jul 25, 2013 in Community News

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Eight groups of birds seem to take flight from the grounds of Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame, California. The new public artwork Ode to Joy, created by acclaimed sculptor Douwe Blumberg, was commissioned by the hospital and installed this spring.

“I think the name of the piece, Ode to Joy, sums up my motivation,” says Blumberg. “People visiting the hospital are often going through something difficult. They can walk through this beautiful area and see something joyous.”


Around the time Blumberg began working on this piece, he lost a good friend to brain cancer. Witnessing his friend’s struggle and coming to terms with his loss fueled Blumberg’s drive to create a work expressing freedom and joy.

The artist also created his flock of cast aluminum birds with Mills-Peninsula employees in mind. “Staff may have been treating very sick people all day,” Blumberg says. “This sculpture is meant to be something that can rise above all that.”

Blumberg has completed more than 200 commissions, including artwork for Ground Zero in New York City, the Las Vegas Veterans’ Memorial and the royal residence in Dubai.

“The sculpture is beautiful and makes a very prominent entry statement for Burlingame,” says the city’s Vice Mayor Michael Brownrigg. “We are pleased that the hospital was willing to do this for the people of Burlingame.”

Ode to Joy can be viewed by hospital visitors, pedestrians and passing drivers near the intersection of El Camino Real and Trousdale Drive.