Thursday, November 20, 2008
In other news... excellent History of Embryology site launches
This press release came through the Caduceus history of medicine list today:
Making Visible Embryos, http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/visibleembryos/
An online exhibition by Tatjana Buklijas and Nick Hopwood, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, with funding from the Wellcome Trust.
Images of human embryos are everywhere today: in newspapers, clinics, classrooms, laboratories, baby albums and on the internet. Debates about abortion, evolution, assisted conception and stem cells have made these representations controversial, but they are also routine. We tend to take them for granted. Yet 250 years ago human development was nowhere to be seen.
This online exhibition is about how embryo images were produced and made to represent some of the most potent biomedical objects and subjects of our time. It contextualizes such icons as Ernst Haeckel's allegedly forged Darwinist grids and Lennart Nilsson's 'drama of life before birth' on a 1965 cover of Life magazine. It also interprets over 120 now little-known drawings, engravings, woodcuts, paintings, wax models, X-rays and ultrasound scans from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century. It displays the work of making visible embryos.
One image on their site is from our museum - a His Embryograph - but we have similar collections of wax models, embryos and embryo models as discussed in the article. The two photographs here are from our collection. Some of the embryological collection is on display and I've heard that a reworking of it is underway.