What do Medical Museums *Really* have to Offer?

JunoSometimes it is important not to let objects speak for themselves.

The Dittrick Medical History Center has the most extensive collection of 19th and early 20th century surgical instruments in the United States, the largest collection of historic contraceptives in the world, and the most comprehensive gallery of diagnostic instruments (like the earliest stethoscopes!) in North America. We also boast fascinating material on the history of birth, the history of anesthesia, the history of hospital care, WWI medicine, forensics, and much more. But objects and artifacts, as amazing as they are, don’t tell the whole story. Museums–and medical museums in particular–must do more than just present odd or interesting “old things.” They must engage us!

Here at the Dittrick, we are working towards ever-more-meaningful engagements with our visitors. We offer free public lectures and receptions, shorter gallery talks, and will be hosting some truly interesting events this coming year (including a book signing for Kate Manning, author of My Notorious Life, and a “mystery at the museum” night). We are also constantly changing and updating the gallery space. Recent additions include reconstructive surgery during WW1 and forensic crime-solving in 1916–but we aren’t finished yet! As we continue to grow and change, we welcome your input. Join us M-F 9-5, or come to a related event, Medical Mavericks and Marvels (a talk by research associate Brandy Schillace) that will take place at Happy Dog on June 10th at 7:30.

Published by

Brandy Schillace

Historian and author Brandy Schillace, PhD, is Editor for Medhum Fiction | Daily Dose, Research Associate and Public Engagement at the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum, as well as Managing Editor of the medical anthropology journal Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry.

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