Monday, November 30, 2009

Upcoming Observatory Events for this Week and Beyond!

These next couple of weeks are big weeks for Morbid Anatomy Presents at Observatory! Here is a quick list of upcoming events; scroll to find complete information for each one:
Full info on each event to follow. Hope to see you at one or more of these great events!

Date: Thursday, December 3rd
Time: 8:00 PM

Admission: $5
An illustrated lecture by former AMNH Artist in Residence Justine Cooper about her new body of work

The exploding field of medical simulation inspired Justine Cooper’s Living in Sim project. Her mixed-reality artwork includes a website, online social media, photography, video and installation to explore the complexities present in the current health care environment and online social media. The project is an outcome of her artist-in-residency at the Center for Medical Simulation in Cambridge, MA from 2008-2009 along with visits to many East Coast simulation centers.
Cooper will be showing images she has taken in her journeys through many of these medical simulation centers, including images of simulations in progress, the sites where medical simulation is being utilized, mannequins she has met along the way and the characters she created for them beyond their roles as patient simulators.

The gallery show is up through the end of the year at
Daneyal Mahmood Gallery
511 West 25th Street 3fl
New York, NY 10011
T-Sa 11-6

Bio: Sydney born, New York based artist Justine Cooper investigates the intersections between culture, science and medicine. She has been artist-in-residence at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Australian Key Center for Microscopy and Microanalysis. She is best known for creating the (fictional) lifestyle drug, HAVIDOL ( Her work has been internationally recognized and exhibited including at The New Museum, New York; The Singapore Museum of Art; Netherlands Institute for Media Art, George Pompidou Centre, Paris; and the International Center of Photography, New York. She credits her interest in making work in science and medical institutions to the fact she grew up as the daughter of two veterinarians. As a child she lived in the back rooms of their veterinary clinic, observing and sometime assisting in examinations and surgeries.

The Dissection Room Photo: A Lost Genre of Medical Portraiture.
Date: Sunday, December 6th
4:00 PM
An illustrated lecture about the history of dissection photos in America as discussed in the critically acclaimed Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine 1880-1930, by co-author and Chief Curator of the Dittrick Medical History Center James Edmonson

*Copies of Dissection will be available for sale and signing; Mütter Museum Books and 2010 Calendar will also be available for sale

This illustrated lecture by James Edmonson, based on research and photographs presented in his critically acclaimed (Amazon top 10 science books of the year, featured in New York Times, New York Times Book Review, Slate, NPR All Things Considered, NPR Science Friday) Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine 1880-1930, will explicate and contextualize an under-seen genre of the American photographic tradition: photographs taken of human dissections by medical students. This book, with more than 100 rare historic photos, will be available for sale and signing at the event, along with other Blast Books publications such as the 2010 Mütter Museum Calendar and books The Mütter Museum, and Mütter Museum Historic Medical Photographs.

James (Jim) M. Edmonson is Chief Curator of the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum of Case Western Reserve University. Jim is a historian of technology who always wanted to be a curator and by a quirk of fate ended up in a medical museum, the Dittrick Museum of Medical History in Cleveland, Ohio. Recent publications include American Surgical Instruments (1997) and Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine, 1880-1930 (Blast Books, 2009). Jim has also recently opened a major permanent exhibition at the Dittrick, “Virtue, Vice, and Contraband: A History of Contraception in America,” and is working on a companion illustrated history of contraception in book form. In the medical museum field Jim has been past president of the Medical Museums Association and serves as Secretary General of the European Association of Museums of the History of Medical Sciences. He has been a consultant to the Warren Anatomical Museum of Harvard University, the New York Academy of Medicine, the Mutter Museum, and the Waring Historical Library.

More about the book, from the publisher’s press release:

Featuring 138 rare, historic photographs, Dissection is a “landmark book” (Ruth Richardson) that reveals a startling piece of American history, the rite of passage into the mysteries of medicine captured in photography. From the advent of photography in the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, medical students, often in secrecy, took photographs of themselves with the cadavers that they dissected: their first patients. The photographs were made in a variety of forms, from proud class portraits to staged dark-humor scenes, from personal documentation to images reproduced on postcards sent in the mail. Poignant, strange, disturbing, and humorous, they are all compelling.

These photographs were made at a time when Victorian societal taboos against intimate knowledge of the human body were uneasily set aside for medical students in pursuit of knowledge that could be gained only in the dissecting room. "Dissection," writes Mary Roach, “documents—in archival photographs and informed, approachable prose—a heretofore almost entirely unknown genre, the dissection photograph.” “Without looking,” writes John Harley Warner, “we cannot see an uncomfortable past and begin to understand the legacies that American doctors and patients live with today.” That uncomfortable past saw the gradual passing of state laws, from 1831 to 1947, to govern the awkward business of cadaver supply—ever inadequate—bringing an end to reliance on professional “resurrectionists,” grave robbing, and dissection as an extended punishment for murder and as a consequence of poverty.

As James Edmonson notes, “Unsettling though these images may be, they are a thread connecting us to the shared experience among medical professionals over generations. . . . As medical schools explore alternatives to human dissection, this rite of passage may disappear.” Together, the remarkable archival photographs and illuminating essays in Dissection present the astonishing social realities of the pursuit of medical knowledge in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century America.

Praise for the book:
“An extraordinary collection of photographs. . . . Forget the truckloads of grandiose prose that has been spun about the art and science of medicine over the centuries: one look at this picture [page 188] and you understand what it is all supposed to be about.”
—Abigail Zuger, MD, The New York Times

“This is the most extraordinary book I have ever seen [and] the perfect coffee table book for all the households where I’d most like to be invited for coffee.”
—Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Bonk

“A truly unique and important book [that] documents a period in medical education in a way that is matched by no other existing contribution.”
—Sherwin Nuland, MD, author of How We Die

Exquisite Corpses
Date: Thursday, December 10
8:00 pm (Doors at 7)
Illustrated Lecture and Artifacts from the Mütter Museum, Robert Hicks, Director of the Mütter Museum
* Mütter Museum Books and 2010 Calendar will be available for sale

Images of post mortem human remains are fascinating and disquieting. They amuse children at Halloween and disturb adults when on display at museums. Today’s omnipresent imagery of people doing everything at all times has not accustomed us to depictions of human mortality. The dead are speedily removed from view, and our direct contact with the dead is limited and controlled. Although mortal images can arouse empathy and may develop tolerance for a spectrum of human physical variation, other cultural voices argue for proscription and censure. In this presentation, Robert Hicks, director of the Mütter Museum, explores our dialogue with post mortem human imagery by examining its relationship to politics and ownership of the dead. He incorporates perspectives drawn from anthropology, art criticism, history, museum curatorship, and criminal justice.

Robert D. Hicks, Ph.D. is the director of the Mütter Museum and Historical Library at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He also directs the F. C. Wood Institute and holds the William Maul Measey Chair for the History of Medicine. Before coming to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Robert supervised exhibits, collections, and educational outreach as the Director of the Roy Eddleman Institute for Education and Interpretation at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. He has worked with museum-based education, curatorship, and exhibits, primarily as a consultant to historic sites in Virginia. Additionally, he has served as a U.S. Naval officer and worked in criminal justice for over two decades.
This list is just the beginning; there are many more great events coming up in the weeks to come, including a Krumpus-themed Holiday party on December 19th! To see the entire upcoming schedule, click here. To get on the mailing list, click here. For directions to Observatory, click here.

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