Thursday, August 22, 2013

New York Academy of Medicine All-Day "Wonder Cabinet and Medical History Festival" Curated by Lawrence Weschler and Morbid Anatomy, Saturday, October 5, NYC

Did you know that there is a world-class medical library in New York City? And that it is located in a gorgeous historical building (see above)? And that its open to the public to boot? No? Well, don't feel too bad. Neither, it seems, do many people, beyond the dedicated readers--from scholars to artists--who make use of its resources. 

Please allow me, then, to introduce you to the very lovely and highly wonderful New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM). Founded in 1847 and located in Manhattan at Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street, this library--which I have had the happy opportunity to excavate at length--houses and makes available to the public a wide variety of historical treasures and curiosities.

My good friend Lisa O'Sullivan--formerly senior medical curator at The Science Museum in London--is the director of NYAM's Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health, which she is keen to develop into a space to nurture people operating at the intersections of medicine and the humanities. I am sure we can all agree, her conception will provide a welcome addition to the New York scene!

Lisa has invited Morbid Anatomy to explore and blog about NYAM's wonderful rare and historical materials here and on the Center's own Books, Health and History blog. She has also invited Morbid Anatomy to co-curate--along with Lawrence Weschler, former director of NYU Institute for the Humanities/Wonder Cabinet series and author of the amazing Mr. Wilson and his Cabinet of Wonders--a day of public programming for an open house which will place in just over a month, on Saturday, October 5.

This all day, open-to-the-public, mostly free (!) "Wonder Cabinet and Medical History Festival" will include lectures, workshops, demonstrations and, at the end of the day, a party featuring medical films from the National Library of Medicine, the music of DJ Friese Undine, and an open bar. Speakers and participants will include neurologist and author Oliver Sacks along with such Morbid Anatomy regulars as cultural critic Mark Dery, Portraits of the Mind author Carl Schoonover, the National Library of Medicine's Michael Sappol, media historian Amy Herzog, historian Daniel Margocsy, medical illustrator Marie Dauenheimer and Cranioklepty author Colin Dickey.

A series of 20-minute mini-lectures will explore such varied topics as 18th century wax anatomical models; "Anthropodermic bibliopegy," or books bound in human skin; Charles Wilson Peale and the first American museum (by an authentic Peale descendent!); Ruysch, Descartes and the Problem of Wax; Cranioklepty, or the thefts of famous skulls; An iconography of rays, beams, and waves in medical drawings from 1920-1960; death and the diorama; "Terror management theory"; and neuroscience from antiquity to Cajal.

Reprises of some of our most popular Morbid Anatomy Art Academy workshops will give you the opportunity to craft your own Hans Holbein-inspired Dance of Death linoleum cut; dissect and draw with real anatomical specimens; learn the principles of comparative anatomy with the aid of animal skeletons; and learn the antiquated carbon dust method of medical illustration.

Visitors will also have to chance to take in a medical wax moulage demonstration by wax artist Sigrid Sarda, an "anatomy performance" in which artist Kriota Willberg demonstrates the musculoskeletal system on a live model, and the crafting of a memento mori-themed linoleum cut. They will also have the chance to explore the fantastic inner spaces of this incredible and under-seen New York landmark.

You can find out more about the event by clicking here; stay tuned for more about both the event and the rich holdings of the NYAM in these weeks leading up to the event.

This is sure to be an amazing event; I hope very much to see you there!

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