The last twenty years have witnessed a remarkable and dynamic explosion in the number of newly established medical history collections, as well as the volume of visitors they attract. This reflects both changing public attitudes to, and perceptions of, the history of medicine, as well as the growing importance medical history has assumed within historical scholarship more widely. There are now over 240 such museums in Europe, and probably another 150 in the US and Canada. This rapid proliferation and expansion has also created a wide variety of novel and innovative ways for medical history museums to engage with academic audiences and the wider public alike that supplement the traditional collections boasting lancets, surgical knifes and dentist chairs, or forcefully exhibited pathological or anatomical specimens of Siam twins, cancerous tumours, or human skeletons.
Taking stock of how history of medicine museums have evolved in recent years in terms of both their societal and academic roles, this workshop invites the submission of paper proposals on two overarching themes:
Download the conference programme HERE
The Museum of Natural History in Vienna was founded in 1876, and opened its doors to the public in 1882. The exhibitions were set up according to the 19th century exhibition classification and as taxonomical, geographical and evolutionary classification. A permanent section on physical anthropology was opened in 1930, which has featured several temporal and permanent exhibitions since.
Apart from a few considerations made by some of his former students and collaborators at the posthumous publication of the complete works by the great Romanian anatomist Francisc I. Rainer (1874-1944), nothing significant has been written about the medical and anthropological collections created by the founder of the Institute of Anthropology in Bucharest. In 1920 Rainer was appointed professor and head of the Anatomy Department at the Faculty of Medicine in Bucharest. After his retirement, twenty years later, he left behind a well organised Museum of Anatomy with a collection of more than 700 pieces of human and comparative anatomy. From 1942 professor Rainer has been officially recognised, by a special decree-law, as director for life of the new Institute of Anthropology. For this institution he created a Research Laboratory and a Museum of Anthropology with a huge collection of human skulls (over 5000 at the time of the inauguration, in June 1940) and a collection of pathological bones of over 1500 pieces.
The paper I am proposing consists of two parts. First I would like to offer you a historical introduction to the Museum Boerhaave and its medical collections. What were the intentions of the founders of the museum when they decided in 1928 to make the museum not only a museum collecting, studying and presenting the history of exact science, but to also add the history of medicine (and the other life sciences) to its assignment? How has this collection been presented to the public in the eighty jears of the museum’s existence; what story does it tell? What message does it convey? These last themes I will illustrate with impressions of the permanent displays of the museum, dating from 1931 until 1991.
“From undocumented objects to a public, scientific museum. About the Medical History Museum of Gothenburg, Sweden”
How do you deepen the general public’s interest, along with that of scientists and politicians, in a medical history museum?” This question has been the guiding star and the great challenge of my long professional life as museum curator and director.
The Medical University of Vienna’s medical collections include over a million items including pictures (photos, paintings, etc.), books (from about 1500 till now), an archive, instruments, as well as waxmodels (from 1784-88). They are exhibited in their original building, the “Josephinum”, the “surgical-medical academy”, built in 1785. The “Department and collections for the History of Medicine” seeks to collect, protect, digitise and use these collections for all manners of scientific work. Similarly, it hosts an increasing number of guided tours for children/schools and medical conferences, in addition to scanning of photos/pictures for use in publications, and preparing a new presentation of the collections of instruments towards attracting further visitors in the future. On the more academic side, the Josephinum is organising more lectures for students and offers new possibilities to write a dissertation or diploma.
© 2011. All content, Pulse-Project.org