Sunday, May 22, 2011

This Week At Observatory! Obscure Anatomical Collections! Behind the Scenes at The Museum of Natural History! Gender and Medical Illustration!

To celebrate (or mourn, depending on your point of view) yesterday's anti-climactic non-rapture, Morbid Anatomy has put together a very exciting week of illustrated lectures to take place at Brooklyn's Observatory! On Tuesday, join Dr. Rolf ter Sluis for a virtual tour of the underknown European anatomical collection he curates; on Thursday, author Jay Kirk will tell us the story of Carl Akeley, that "brooding genius who revolutionized taxidermy and created the famed African Hall we visit today at New York's Museum of Natural History;" and on Saturday, practicing medical illustrator Shelley Wall will discuss "how sexual anatomy, gendered bodies, and dimorphic sex have been represented in the visual discourse of medicine."

Heady stuff! Full details for all events follow; hope very much to see you there!

A Virtual Tour of the Anatomical Collections of the University of Groningen
An illustrated lecture with Dr. Rolf ter Sluis, Curator and Director of the Groningen University Museum
Date: This Tuesday, May 24th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5

Tonight, join Dr. Rolf ter Sluis--curator and director of the Netherlands based Groningen University Museum--for a virtual tour of the museum's historic and amazing anatomy and pathology collections. The majority of the collection consists of preparations in spirit, but also includes dry preparations where the veins have been injected with coloured wax, wax and Papier-mâché models, skeletons and skulls, preserved tattooed skin, and much more.

The core of the museum collection is drawn from the private collections of two important 18th century medical scientists, Petrus Camper and Pieter de Riemer. The collection of Camper, professor of medicine from 1763 - 1774, and his son Adriaan Gilles Camper consisted of anatomical, comparing anatomical and biological preparations, fossils, minerals and instruments. The collection was donated to the museum after Camper’s death in 1820 and there are still around 200 of his preparations in the museum collection. Another important part is the collection of the medical scientist Pieter de Riemer (1769 - 1831). He was especially interested in anatomy, surgery and obstetrics. The De Riemer collection, containing more than 900 preparations, came into the hands of the university in 1831.

Dr. Rolf ter Sluis is the Curator and Director of the Groningen University Museum. He also studied history and worked for 25 years as a registered nurse in Anaesthetics before taking on his role as curator and director of the collection.

Kingdom Under Glass: A Tale of Obsession, Adventure, and One Man’s Quest to Preserve the World’s Great Animals
An illustrated lecture and book signing with author Jay Kirk
Date: This Thursday, May 26th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
***Books will be available for sale and signing

During the golden age of safaris in the early twentieth century, one man set out to preserve Africa's great beasts. In his new book Kingdom Under Glass: A Tale of Obsession, Adventure, and One Man's Quest to Preserve the World's Great Animals, Jay Kirk details the life and adventures of naturalist and taxidermist Carl Akeley, the brooding genius who revolutionized taxidermy and created the famed African Hall we visit today at New York's Museum of Natural History. The Gilded Age was drawing to a close, and with it came the realization that men may have hunted certain species into oblivion. Renowned taxidermist Carl Akeley joined the hunters rushing to Africa, where he risked death time and again as he stalked animals for his dioramas and hobnobbed with outsized personalities of the era such as Theodore Roosevelt and P. T. Barnum. In a tale of art, science, courage, and romance, Jay Kirk resurrects a legend and illuminates a fateful turning point when Americans had to decide whether to save nature, to destroy it, or to just stare at it under glass.

Tonight, join author Jay Kirk for an illustrated lecture based on his new book Kingdom Under Glass. Books will be available for sale and signing after the event.

Jay Kirk's nonfiction has been published in Harper's, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, and The Nation. His work has been anthologized in Best American Crime Writing 2003 and 2004, and Best American Travel Writing 2009 (edited by Simon Winchester). He is a recipient of a 2005 Pew Fellowship in the Arts and is a MacDowell Fellow. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Pub(l)ic Identities: Reading Medical Representations of Sex
An illustrated lecture with medical artist Shelley Wall
Date: This Saturday, May 28th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5

"It's a girl!" "It's a boy!"... The genitals, those body parts conventionally expected to remain most hidden, are also the first and most powerful shapers of our public identity. In this illustrated talk, medical artist Shelley Wall considers how sexual anatomy, gendered bodies, and dimorphic sex have been represented in the visual discourse of medicine. From early anatomical atlases through to present-day clinical illustrations and the Visible Human datasets, medical imagery has influenced ideas about sexual identity and what it means to be "normal".

Shelley Wall is a medical artist and professor in the Biomedical Communications graduate program, University of Toronto. Her research interests include biomedical representations of sex and gender, conventions in visualizing the embryology of sexual differentiation and intersex conditions, contemporary and historical visual practices in relation to women's health, and medical humanities.

You can find out more about these events on the Observatory website by clicking here; you can access these events on Facebook here. You can get directions to Observatory--which is next door to the Morbid Anatomy Library (more on that here)--by clicking here. You can find out more about Observatory here, join our mailing list by clicking here, and join us on Facebook by clicking here.

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