Manifesting Medicine

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Science Museum, 2004 - History - 180 pages
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The 'Artefacts' series is sponsored by the Science Museum in London, UK, the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, USA, with help from professional historians in other museums and elsewhere. Historians, museum curators and other commentators agree that artefacts of medicine are no longer to be seen in terms of their functional properties -- there is a multitude of connections that can be made with cultural, economic and political issues. Dissecting out a broader meaning is, however, a considerable challenge. In this volume, five authors write about sets of museum artefacts: early blood transfusion apparatus, a plastic human replica, the Geiger counter, open-heart surgery equipment and packaging for the Pill. Case by case, the use of the objects focuses attention not only on their medical purpose, but also on the meanings they held for all who confronted them. We are therefore helped to see not just machines, but also imaginative worlds of the past, and the authors demonstrate that those who encounter these artefacts will be confronting big subjects: life and conception, blood and danger. Research on the material culture of medicine has, in general, been based in museums; a further two papers offer reviews of medical museums and collections, focusing on the problem of telling a meaningful history through objects and exhibits. With its focus on modern technology, this is a history of medicine with a difference. All those interested in how medicine affects the culture of the healthy as well as the fate of the sick will find this volume of interest.

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About the author (2004)

Robert Bud is Head of Electronic Resources at the Science Museum, London. His work concentrates on the history of modern applied science.

Bernard Finn is Curator Emeritus of Electrical Collections at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. He is the author or editor of a number of books and articles on electrical history, museums, and submarine telegraphy.

Helmuth Trischler is head of the research department of the Deutsches Museum and Professor of History and History of Technology at the University of Munich.