Showing posts with label exhibits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exhibits. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Walt Whitman's Civil War Soldiers at the NMHM

Walt Whitman

Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress

On April 12th, the 150th anniversay of the start of the Civil War, the National Archives announced the discovery of almost 3,000 pieces written by the poet Walt Whiman. Whitman, "a journalist, poet and essayist...[was]...perhaps best known for capturing the haunted pageantry of the Civil War in his work 'Drum-Taps'." You can read news of the discovery online at the Washington Post.

But what became of Whitman's wounded boys, the young soldiers he captured in Specimen Days? For some, their stories are documented online at: "Walt Whitman’s Soldiers: A National Museum of Health and Medicine Online Exhibit." Anatomical specimens and medical documentation of patients that Whitman immortalized remain in the collection of the NMHM, such as that of Private Oscar Cunningham:

“…the noblest specimen of a young western man…” On May 2nd, 1863, during the battle of Chancellorsville, Private Cunningham, 82nd Ohio, received a gunshot wound to the right thigh that resulted in a compound fracture of the thigh. The bullet was extracted at Armory Square Hospital on June 15th. Extensive abscesses formed following the procedure, and on May 2nd, 1864, Cunningham’s leg was amputated. Although Bliss had hope for a successful outcome when he submitted the specimen to the Army Medical Museum on May 5th, Cunningham died on June 5th, 1864. Whitman, who cared for Cunningham, described the young man in a letter to his mother. "I have just left Oscar Cunningham, the Ohio boy—he is in a dying condition—there is no hope for him—it would draw tears from the hardest heart to look at him--his is all wasted away to a skeleton, & looks like some one fifty years old—you remember I told you a year ago, when he was first brought in, I thought him the noblest specimen of a young western man I had seen, a real giant in size, & always with a smile on his face—O what a change, he has long been very irritable, to every one but me, & his frame is all wasted away." Cunningham died on June 4, 1864, one month after Bliss had hoped that Cunningham might survive his amputation. Cunningham was one of the first soldiers to be buried in the new Arlington National Cemetery."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Letter of the Day: April 9


9 April 1962

Mr. W.O. Miller
Exhibit Manager
The Upjohn Company
Kalamazoo, Michigan

Dear Mr. Miller:

Last year the Medical Museum had approximately 700,000 visitors and it is anticipated that the figure will reach the million mark by 1963.

We would like to have the opportunity of exhibiting The Cell during 1963. Do you have a photograph and descriptive material on this exhibit?

It is regretted that The “Brain” is too complicated to exhibit here.

Sincerely yours,

John W. Sheridan
Colonel MSC
Curator, Medical Museum

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 27

27 November 1957

[To] Assistant Chief, Medical Illustration Service

[From] Curator, Medical Museum

[Subject] Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association

Request that application be made for the presentation of the following exhibit at the Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association, to be held in the Hotel Roosevelt, New Orleans, Louisiana, 28 April – 1 May 1958:

a. Exhibit title: Some Contributions of Dr. Hugh H. Young to Operative Urology.

b. Exhibitor’s name: Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Col. H. W. Coddington, Curator and Helen R. Purtle, and the Instrument Collection Committee of the American Urological Association, Dr. Edward E. Ferguson, Chairman, Washington, D.C.

c. Description: This exhibit shows some of the instruments devised by Dr. Young with a brief biographical introduction.

d. Space requirement: Four, 4’ x 5’ panels (already constructed).

H. W. Coddington
Colonel, MSC, USA
Curator, Medical Museum

Monday, August 9, 2010

WAMU's Metro Connection on museum exhibit

Wounded in Action: Art at Walter Reed
August 6, 2010

Two new art shows have opened at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C. and at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. It's all part of a traveling exhibit called 'Wounded In Action' put on by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Ginger Moored reports...

The Wounded in Action art exhibit is on display at Walter Reed and the University of Maryland in Baltimore through November 11th.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Letter of the Day: June 26 (2 of 2)

This seems to imply that we had mannequins in the Museum in the 19th century, but I’ve seen no other references to them.

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1556

June 26, 1896.

Captain Frank R. Keefer,
Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army,
Washington Barracks,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Doctor:

Will you have the kindness to call at the Army Medical Museum when convenient? I would like to see you in regard to dressing the lay figures representing the Hospital Corps.

Very respectfully,
D.L. Huntington
Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,
In charge of the Museum and Library Division.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Exhibit at NMHM: "Wounded in Action: An Art Exhibition of Orthopaedic Advancements" through Veterans Day




"Wounded in Action:

An Art Exhibition of Orthopaedic Advancements"

Now through Veterans Day 2010



Home from the War by Joseph Pearson

“Wounded in Action,” an exhibit of art works inspired by experiences with the wounds of war, opened at NMHM on May 7. This is the first major national installation for “Wounded in Action.”


The exhibit is in two parts: approximately half of the installation is here at NMHM while the rest is installed at the University of Maryland Baltimore Health Sciences/Human Services Library and Southern Management Corporation Campus Center.


"Wounded in Action" is produced and organized by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons


Read the NMHM news release:


Learn more about “Wounded in Action” online at



Monday, April 26, 2010

Installed AAOS exhibit at Russell senate office building

From the Museum's press release:


Washington, D.C. – March 31, 2010: "Wounded in Action: An Art Exhibition of Orthopaedic Advancements," an exhibit of art works inspired by experiences with the wounds of war, will have its first major installation at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C. and the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), in May 2010, after a one-week exhibition in a United States Senate office building in the nation’s capital. "Wounded in Action" is produced and organized by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), which premiered the exhibition at its annual meeting in New Orleans in March.

"Wounded in Action" celebrates those who have had orthopaedic injuries as a result of serving our country during a time of war. From World War II to Korea to Viet Nam, from the Gulf War, to Afghanistan to Iraq, thousands of uniformed service members have suffered severe musculoskeletal injuries. Their stories are told through the art on display in the installation. The exhibition also recognizes orthopaedic surgeons who, throughout history, have risked their own safety to care for military service members, to save lives and limbs, to advance medical treatments, and to conduct research and learn from war in order to better treat those who sustain orthopaedic trauma.

"Wounded in Action" will see its Washington, D.C. premiere at the Russell Senate Office Building the week of April 26-30, 2010.

In May, the entire juried exhibition will be concurrently installed in two locations in the Baltimore/Washington region: at the NMHM in Washington and at UMB’s Health Sciences/Human Services Library and Southern Management Corporation Campus Center, in downtown Baltimore. Both locations will be open to the public and the exhibition is available free of charge. (See below for specific exhibition information.)

"The intersection of medicine and the humanities is central to this exhibition and we’re honored to partner with AAOS and the University of Maryland, Baltimore in offering the public the opportunity to engage this important show," said Adrianne Noe, Ph.D., Director of the NMHM. "As a medical museum located on a military medical installation, we’re intimately familiar with the present-day consequences of war injuries. And, historically, our collections have played an integral role in the development of new and innovative technologies to improve the quality of life of wounded warriors and their families."

NMHM has a considerable interest in documenting advances in prosthetics and orthopaedic surgery, with hundreds of objects included in the Museum’s Historical Collections. Instruments that document the history of amputation range from Revolutionary War-era amputation knives to Civil War-era surgical kits and modern 20th-century stainless steel amputation saws. A large collection of artificial limbs, dating from the post Civil War era to modern examples, is also in the collection and on display in the Museum’s Civil War medicine and battlefield surgery exhibits. Highlights include a circa 1850 G.W. Yearger Artificial Leg, the first patented artificial limb; two artificial limbs made by American POWs during the World War II; and an Otto Bock C-Leg issued to amputees wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. The history of total joint arthroplasty is represented by a mock-up of the Jules Pean's artificial shoulder implant of 1890; a collection of joint prosthetics developed by the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City; and the prototype UCI Total Knee.

"Statistics on war injuries are stark and startling – but by telling personal stories of the men and women who have demonstrated extreme courage, endured extreme loss and persevered through a healing process – we hope to truly honor our troops," said AAOS President John J. Callaghan, MD. "We also honor the orthopaedic surgeons and all who serve as military medical caregivers. "Wounded in Action" not only is a collection of artwork, it also is a collection of stories of both pain and renewal."

"As Maryland's public academic healthcare center, UMB is delighted to be partnering with AAOS and the National Museum of Health and Medicine to bring this provocative exhibit to Baltimore," said James L. Hughes, MBA, Vice President, Office of Research and Development at UMB. "By portraying the challenges in repairing war’s assault on the human body and spirit, the artwork will inspire the thousands of healthcare students, clinicians, and researchers at UMB and throughout Greater Baltimore."

Installed AAOS exhibit at Russell senate office building

Installed AAOS exhibit at Russell senate office building

Installed AAOS exhibit at Russell senate office building

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 8

Memo for The Record

Albert E Minns Jr
Curator, Medical Museum

Herman E Demick
CQ 8 April 1961

8 April 1961

During CQ duty on this date numerous inquiries were made by visitors requesting the wherebouts of the Forensic Pathology exhibits.

Some inquiries were the direct result of the Army Times article and some were due to the Evening Star Letter To The Editor which is attached [missing now – MR]. However, the majority were from people who heard about the exhibits being interesting or those who had seen them previously and were bringing others in to see them. Upon arrival these visitors naturally inquired for them when the exhibits were not found in their areas.

One mother with her teenage son – present at the request of her son – stated that TV Westerns represent the use of guns and knives as not dangerous. Her son had been impressed with our exhibits which served as an object lesson to him. Rather than being shocked he was seriously interested and asked his mother to visit the Museum with him.

M/Sgt Clayton A Knepley, of WRAMC [this is when the Museum was still downtown near the Smithsonian] visited the museum with his teenage son expressly to see the exhibits in question. The Sgt was familiar with the Exhibits and in hi opinion they are very valuable to the young. He read the Times article and was in fact the source of my knowledge of any letter in the Star. His reaction to the affair is that in his opinion it is unfair and unwarranted. He believes both articles have been written by the same person – pointing out the similarity in the writing style.

Guard James Jackson and I had near one-hundred inquiries for the exhibits throughout the day. It may be noted that visitor attendance was comparatively light due to the parade activities. The total requests for the exhibits versus attendance represent a good percentage of people wanting the exhibits.

Mr. Robert F. Jones, [street address redacted] Philadelphia, Pa. tour-director brings groups of students and adults to D.C. at least once a week. During the past few weeks he has brought in young girl students in groups of 65. During these weeks he reports, not one of the girls have shown anything but serious interest in the Forensic Pathology exhibits. Not one case of “shock or horror”. His viewpoint is that his groups learned the seriousness of “the unloaded gun and the switch-blade”. Mr. Jones says he intends to write a letter to the paper giving his opinion. He said it is a shame the exhibits have been removed.

Herman E Demick

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Julie Brown speaks at NLM

Julie's done a lot of research in the Museum over the years.

History of Medicine Division Seminar
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 2-3:30pm
NLM Visitor Center, Bldg 38A
Bethesda, MD

"Health and Medicine on Display: International Expositions in the United
States, 1876-1904."

Julie K. Brown
Independent Scholar

International expositions, with their massive assembling of exhibits and
audiences, were the media events of their time. In transmitting a new
culture of visibility that merged information, entertainment, and
commerce, they provided a unique opportunity for the public to become
aware of various social and technological advances. This presentation
examines how international expositions, through their exhibits and
infrastructures, sought to demonstrate innovations in applied health and
medical practice.

All are welcome.

Note: The next history of medicine seminar will be held on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 2-3:30pm in the NLM's Lister Hill Auditorium. In aspecial program celebrating African American History Month, NIH scholar Sheena Morrison will speak on "Nothing to Work with but Cleanliness: The Training of African American Midwives in the South."

Sign language interpretation is provided. Individuals with disabilities
who need reasonable accommodation to participate may contact Stephen
Greenberg at 301-435-4995, e-mail, or the Federal Relay (1-800-877-8339).

Due to current security measures at NIH, off-campus visitors are advised to consult the NLM Visitors and Security website:

Stephen J. Greenberg, MSLS, PhD
Coordinator of Public Services
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health
Department of Health and Human Services


Friday, December 11, 2009

Bryn Barnard at Museum photos

Ace amateur photographer Bruce Guthrie has put up his photographs of Bryn Barnard speaking at the Museum last weekend. I couldn't make the talk, and I don't know if we recorded it. I can check if anyone would like. We may still have signed copies of his book "Outbreak" as well.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hairballs, hairballs

This happened this afternoon, but some of it still lingers:

What: National Hairball Awareness Day! NMHM is preparing a temporary exhibition of hairballs for display. Plan now to visit the Museum at 12 p.m. on Monday, April 27 to learn how hairballs form in the stomach, see a selection of human and animal hairballs on display, and get a chance to hold an animal hairball! Hairballs, also known as bezoars, form in the stomach of humans and some animals, and are made of indigestible matter such as hair, food and some medicines.

Want to learn more about hairballs? Check out the Museum's virtual exhibit here