Exhibition Reviews 775 Nicholas J. Hoffman History Museum at the Castle Appleton, Wisconsin doi: 10.1093/jahist/jat458 National Museum of Health and Medicine, U.S. Army Fort Detrick Forest Glen Annex, Silver Spring, Md. http://www.medicalmuseum.mil/. Permanent exhibition, opened May 2012. 5,000 sq. ft. Adrienne Noe, museum director; Gallagher & Associates, exhibit planning and design; KlingStubbins in coordination with the Baltimore district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, architecture and engineering. On May 21, 2012, 150 years to the day after Surgeon General William Hammond authorized the creation of the Army Medical Museum, its latest incarnation, the National Museum of Health and Medicine (), reopened in a new, purpose-built building on the grounds Downloaded from http://jah.oxfordjournals.org/ at Knox College on April 3, 2014 the organized a multiethnic party on the second ﬂoor of the hall to beneﬁt striking families. Witness reports varied, but most people claimed someone yelled “ﬁre,” causing a panicked stampede down the stairs where seventy-four people suffocated. The strike ended the following spring, but the mines never fully recovered. In 1984, the Friends of Italian Hall and Local 324 of the American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations (-) created the green space after the building was demolished, saving only the sandstone arch that formed the entryway to the hall. The tour guidebook and a Michigan Historic Site marker interpret the location’s history, outlining the tragedy’s relationship to the strike and narrating preservationists’ failed efforts to save the building. Visitors to the would have difﬁculty ﬁnding contemporary labor’s perspective on the memory of the strike and the copper boom. When the Italian Hall Memorial Park did include the perspective of unionized workers, it was a powerful and direct summary of many of the lasting consequences of the industry’s decline. The simple - plaque afﬁxed to the monument recites a quote attributed to Mother Jones: “Mourn for the dead, but ﬁght for the living.” Standing in the archway, near a pile of stamp sand, across from vacant buildings and near houses still home to people who are ﬁghting for Calumet’s future, the lasting consequences of the boom are most apparent. Exactly one hundred years after unionized residents fought against corporate control, people are still struggling in the aftermath of the strike and deindustrialization, but they are gradually trying to climb out of the mining company shadow. As state legislatures ﬂirt with the proposition of mining booms, the opportunity for fast fortune can make the potential legacy of heavy industry difﬁcult to imagine. This is why the matters today. Already, North Dakota’s oil companies are recruiting workers, exerting social control, and using a paternalistic management style similar to Agassiz’s. In the north woods of Wisconsin, environmental protections have been relaxed, perhaps paving the way for another mining boom on Lake Superior. Nearby, on the Keweenaw Peninsula, shorelines are clogged with heavy metals that seep from stamp sand into the Great Lakes. What the does best is teach visitors about the rise and decline of a boomtown and how corporations controlled every aspect of life for its work force. I hope this information better equips tourists and residents to understand how corporate agendas have a lasting inﬂuence on the landscape and communities they inhabit. 776 The Journal of American History December 2013 Downloaded from http://jah.oxfordjournals.org/ at Knox College on April 3, 2014 of the U.S. Army’s Fort Detrick Forest Glen Annex. Although favorite items, such as the bullet that killed President Abraham Lincoln and a stomach-sized hair ball, remain on display, the refreshed exhibits attempt to balance the ’s rich legacy as a leading medical research institution with the “freakish” and titillating items that lure many visitors into medical museums. The tension between medical curiosities and “serious” research permeates the museum’s history as well as its current content. The three galleries in the new space house revamped exhibits that foreground the museum’s long and complex history while also celebrating contemporary advances in military medical care and biomedical research. The three exhibit spaces are arranged off a central lobby, and visitors can move through the galleries in any order. To the right of the entrance is “The Human Body: Anatomy and Pathology,” to the left is “The Military Medicine: Challenges and Innovation,” and directly across from the entrance is “The Collection That Teaches,” by far the largest gallery in the museum. In “The Collection That Teaches,” large windows along the back wall allow visitors to look into a portion of the museum’s storage area and a working Biosafety Level 2 laboratory. Both jarring and thought provoking, the juxtaposition of modern scientiﬁc apparatus with the museum’s nineteenth- and early twentieth-century artifacts underscores the continuity between the museum’s research and educational missions over the past 150 years. Despite having a name that implies a comprehensive history of medicine, the museum focuses primarily on military medicine, especially ﬁeld and trauma medicine. The War Department, and later the Department of Defense, has always been the museum’s major source of ﬁnancial support. Originally called the Army Medical Museum, the remains part of the Department of Defense in the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command. The museum collects a broad spectrum of medical history, including dental history, from the eighteenth century to the present, and microscopes dating back to 1650. Although its collections remain inclusive, its new displays focus narrowly on military medicine. This narrow focus ultimately excludes patient voices, civilian health and medical issues, and most chronic diseases from the museum in favor of medical technology and pathology specimens. Notably absent from the museum’s displays are artifacts related to rehabilitative care, endof-life care, substance abuse, or other chronic health conditions that soldiers (and civilians) experience. This reﬂects the bureaucracy of military and veteran health care. The Department of Veterans Affairs (), the institution most likely to provide long-term care to veterans and their families, has no relationship to the . Reﬂecting the government’s own separation of these medical services, the exhibits at the stop short of presenting a comprehensive picture of medical and health issues impacting either military or civilian populations. The ’s collection, which today includes approximately 25 million objects, began modestly on a shelf above Dr. John Hill Brinton’s desk in the Surgeon General’s ofﬁce in 1862. Readers interested in a brief but comprehensive history of the museum’s earliest years should consult Michael G. Rhode’s “The Rise and Fall of the Army Medical Museum and Library” (Washington History, nos. 1–2, 2006, pp. 78–97) and Helen R. Purtle’s “Lincoln Memorabilia in the Medical Museum of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology” (Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Jan.–Feb., 1958, pp. 68–74). Almost immediately after the museum’s creation its collections were available for public viewing. Inviting the public into the museum, however, invariably highlighted the tension between its research and educational missions while also raising concerns about propriety. Though never explicitly associated with the era’s popular (and bawdy) anatomy museums, the Exhibition Reviews 777 Downloaded from http://jah.oxfordjournals.org/ at Knox College on April 3, 2014 elicited enthusiastic responses from the public for its display of maimed and diseased body parts. The museum’s heavy-handed patriotism—draped ﬂags and swords ﬁgured prominently in its early displays—and brief, dry label text no doubt insulated it from accusations of impropriety. The museum’s move into Ford’s Theater only added to its allure. The museum opened to the public at this location in April 1867 and by the end of the year over six thousand visitors passed through its doors. Visitors to the Ford’s Theater location felt that they were visiting a shrine to President Lincoln and the Civil War dead. The mere presence of remains spoke to a generation still struggling to come to terms with battleﬁeld death. Some guidebooks even implied that the museum was haunted and promoted the thrilling prospect of viewing unburied dead. Despite the museum’s popularity as a tourist attraction, its curators considered it a research institution. Reﬂecting the era’s slow shift toward scientiﬁc medicine, curators emphasized the collection’s role as a teaching, research, and reference tool. The ﬁrst major publication based on the museum’s collections, the mammoth Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (1861–65) (6 vols., 1870–1888), reﬂected the profession’s move toward statistical, scientiﬁc inquiry. As the museum’s collections and space grew, its leadership emphasized providing resources for sustained medical research. The museum staff offered diagnostic help to army doctors and, in 1893, the army’s medical school moved into the museum’s building. This positioned the museum at the center of medical and scientiﬁc thought in Washington, D.C., through the early twentieth century. The museum moved its physical location and position in the army’s bureaucracy two more times before settling in its current location in Silver Spring, Maryland. Each move forced the museum to reconsider its mission and reconﬁgure its physical space to meet public, research, and bureaucratic needs. After two decades in Ford’s Theater, the museum relocated to its own building at Seventh Street and Independence Avenue , now the site of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The location on Seventh Street included space to house soldiers’ medical records, several public galleries, a library, teaching space, and archives. In 1971 the museum moved again, this time to a substantially smaller space on the grounds of Walter Reed Army Medical Center () in the northernmost part of D.C. In this location, over ﬁve miles from the city’s monumental core, visitation dropped substantially. The newest location, even further from the center of the city, has ample free parking, is accessible by public transportation, and no longer shares space with a working hospital. The is rightly proud of its history and features it prominently in its new exhibitions. “The Collection That Teaches” gallery presents an overview of the institution’s founding and a large number of its Civil War artifacts. The exhibit is bookended by two cases full of objects displaying what the galley curators Ken Arnold and Thomas Söderqvist call “presence effects.” Objects with a presence effect, they say, activate a visceral, emotional, or sensual experience in the viewer. They emphasize that bodies or biological specimens and medical tools have an innate amount of “presence” because visitors can easily understand a body, or a tool used to bend, break, or spread the body. While these effects bring many visitors into museums to gawk at disassembled bodies or medical oddities, this presents a problem for the . Medical museums must carefully structure the text on labels, cases, and galleries to allow visitors to experience “presence” while also moving them toward understanding the item in its historical, cultural, or economic context—what Söderqvist refers to as the level of meaning. The careful balance of presence and meaning animates the entirety of “The Collection That Teaches.” 778 The Journal of American History December 2013 Downloaded from http://jah.oxfordjournals.org/ at Knox College on April 3, 2014 The ﬁrst case, “150 Years of the Army Medical Museum,” houses unusual objects from the museum’s various collections—a gilded skull, a portion of President James A. Garﬁeld’s spine, slides of President Ulysses S. Grant’s tumor, a piece of “biographical lace” produced by a psychiatric patient. The provides only the most basic information about each item in this case. Without a curatorial voice providing guidance, the visitor is left with a personal, visceral reaction to these items. Söderqvist and his colleagues emphasize that this can be a productive way into an exhibit for the nonspecialist. However, without guidance the visitor may be unable or unwilling to move beyond presence to understanding. There is little contextual information to help visitors position these objects in relationship to the medical objects and specimens in the other cases. A video kiosk located behind visitors and around a corner from this case, under the windows that look into the storage space, includes recordings of curators discussing some of the objects. Curators share interesting background about the objects and explain their relevance to the museum or to the history of medicine. For example, one video offers more information about the patient who produced the “biographical lace”: her condition, and the symbols she used in it. However, the video station’s distance from the case limits its utility as a guide to meaning. The next display, “Lincoln’s Final Hours,” also depends on presence effects for its impact. The objects in this case are some of the most popular in the museum: the bullet that killed Lincoln, fragments of his skull, a few strands of his hair, the surgeon’s bloodstained cuff, and the tool used to remove the bullet. The display assumes that visitors are familiar with Lincoln’s assassination and instead focuses very narrowly on the medical events that followed John Wilkes Booth’s shot. The inherent emotional resonance of these objects, combined with the label text’s reverent tone, positions Lincoln’s skull fragments as secular, democratic relics. This case encourages visitors to feel the presence of President Lincoln. These Lincoln items naturally transition the visitor into the lengthy display of the museum’s Civil War–era collections. With a few exceptions, the displays present multiple versions of a wound, body part, or medical instrument. In many cases the use of multiples presents the process of change over time. This technique is also used to demonstrate variation in a particular kind of bone or medical instrument. Some of the items explicitly rebut myths about Civil War medicine. For example, an anesthesia kit and bottles of various pain medications respond to popular visions of soldiers screaming during amputations. The panel text for items such as these, though brief, provides ample information for visitors to reconcile popular imagery, medical history, and their visceral response to large needles, brass medical instruments, and bone saws. While presence effects are what draw many visitors in, the museum generally avoids indulging in any kind of “freak show” aesthetic. However, the ﬁnal portion of “The Collection That Teaches” gallery displays a hair ball the size and shape of a person’s stomach, conjoined twins, malformed fetuses, and other spectacular examples of anatomy. The strong, visceral reaction that many visitors have to these items, combined with a lack of descriptive labels to guide the visitor’s interpretation, contribute to the sense that the items in this case are freakish, different, and possibly dangerous. Elsewhere, the has worked to move away from this kind of case and this type of visitor experience. Despite the museum staff’s efforts to downplay these objects, guidebooks, newspaper reporters, and writers on online review sites such as Yelp consistently mention these items as a highlight of their museum trip. Yet while these specimens may get visitors in the front door, they do not dominate the gallery or the museum. The has successfully contained the freakish objects in a few cases and kept the majority of objects focused on the less sensational aspects of medical history. Exhibition Reviews 779 Downloaded from http://jah.oxfordjournals.org/ at Knox College on April 3, 2014 Visitors to the second gallery, “Military Medicine: Challenges and Innovations,” learn about the military’s contemporary and historical biomedical research successes. The tone of this gallery’s version of the history of military medicine is relentlessly afﬁrmative. Even when it acknowledges complex, controversial topics such as the psychological costs of war, the exhibit’s narrative, its focus on ﬁeld medicine rather than rehabilitative care, and the artifacts on display highlight the development of technological and scientiﬁc ﬁxes for these medical problems, not the patient’s experience. Upon entering the gallery, visitors see a case with a video screen and ten different objects. A spotlight illuminates an object while the screen presents an approximately ﬁve-minute video about it. Doctors and researchers, not patients, explain the item and the vital role it plays in military medicine. Among other items, the objects include the presidential medical bag used by the military physician detailed to the White House, ﬂy traps, and a virtual-reality headset used to treat soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (). The virtual-reality helmet and telemedicine “Skype a Psych” tools are the only places where the museum acknowledges the psychological costs of war. This omission is glaring given the tremendous amount of recent media coverage of in deployed soldiers and returning veterans. The museum’s emphasis on technology and striking or unique artifacts precludes displays of visually generic items such as pharmaceuticals or a therapist’s note pad. Similarly, information about long-term therapy, substance abuse/self-medication, or resiliency training— all essential to today’s military—does not lend itself to physical display. These omissions underscore the ’s distance from the , where many soldiers seek treatment for the psychological consequences of war. Visitors continue on to a wall-length display that covers a broad spectrum of military medicine. Each case emphasizes a particular theme and displays items that represent military medical technology at different periods. For example, one case displays helmets from several different wars. The most striking item in this area is unlike any other in the museum. A large chunk of ﬂoor from the hospital at Joint Base Balad in Iraq rests upright in a display case. A quote from a nurse, describing how the scuffs and bloodstains on the hospital ﬂoor consecrated the ground, is etched into the case’s glass. Unlike the presence effects in “The Collection That Teaches,” the hospital ﬂoor confronts visitors with traces of recent injury and heroism. Unlike the nineteenth-century bones that intrigue the modern visitor, the hospital ﬂoor evokes a more solemn, patriotic kind of presence effect. The third and ﬁnal gallery, “The Human Body: Anatomy and Pathology,” is the most general medical display in the museum. It includes three sections. First, a large, wall-length case of anatomical specimens, including a plastinated spleen and heart, wax anatomical models, and a complete upper torso embedded in plastic represent healthy anatomy. Second, this gallery contains the “skeletal development case” in which a series of skeletons, ranging in age from four fetal months to ﬁve years, are displayed upright in what a travel writer for RoadsideAmerica. com described as a kind of “chorus line” of skeletons (“National Museum of Health and Medicine,” RoadsideAmerica.com). Like the large hair ball and fetuses in “The Collection That Teaches,” the skeletal development case is popular enough to get its own dot on the museum map. Although ostensibly displayed to show change over time, these fetal and child skeletons come close to the carnivalesque displays common in the nineteenth century. Finally, the gallery includes a special display on the brain. Banners hanging from the ceiling display quotes about the mind’s relationship to the body, the only place in the museum that introduces the social meaning of bodies, and two freestanding cases in the center of the room probe the uncertain relationship between personality and the brain’s anatomy. The ﬁrst case 780 The Journal of American History December 2013 emphasizes that “madness,” broadly deﬁned, only sometimes reveals itself in anatomy. In this display, the presidential assassin Charles Guiteau’s brain, kept for study after his execution, shares space with a syphilitic skull and brain. The case’s text panel notes that investigators found no physical evidence of insanity in Guiteau’s brain. In contrast, the label for the syphilitic skull notes that late-stage syphilis often contributed to dementia or insanity. The second freestanding case underscores what physical examination of a brain can and cannot reveal about its function. This case houses slices of Albert Einstein’s brain with some basic information about preparing and interpreting slides. In addition to providing the visitor with information about the structures in the brain, these cases imply that the brain and the “mind,” “madness,” or “genius” remains something of a medical mystery. A large case along the far wall includes several examples of brain injuries and cranial surgery from the pre-Colombian era to the present. In this area, the museum juxtaposes a football helmet to an army helmet to introduce a brief discussion about the effects of multiple concussions. While the display text is clear that traumatic brain injury () and multiple concussions are the “signature injury” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this case stops short of discussing the emotional or psychiatric consequences of . The exhibits in all three galleries foreground anatomical specimens, medical technology, and the experience of doctors, nurses, or researchers. Patient experiences and voices are absent from the ’s permanent exhibits. However, the idiosyncratic experience of illness and injury does appear in a temporary art installation in a hallway just off the museum’s lobby. In “WHACK’ed . . . and then everything was different,” the artist Eliette Markhbein, herself a traumatic brain injury survivor, juxtaposed semiabstract portraits of individuals with a traumatic Downloaded from http://jah.oxfordjournals.org/ at Knox College on April 3, 2014 In May 2012 the National Museum of Health and Medicine, formerly the Army Medical Museum, reopened in Silver Spring, Maryland. The new building, shown here, includes ﬁve thousand square feet of exhibit space, the Otis Historical Archives, and the museum’s collection of approximately 25 million objects. Photograph by Ashley Bowen-Murphy. Courtesy Ashley Bowen-Murphy. Exhibition Reviews 781 Ashley Bowen-Murphy Brown University Providence, Rhode Island doi: 10.1093/jahist/jat457 “‘War/Photography’: Images of Armed Conﬂict and Its Aftermath.” Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. http://www.mfah.com. Temporary exhibition, Nov. 11, 2012–Feb. 3, 2013. Traveling exhibition, March 23–June 2, 2013, Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, Calif.; June 29–Sept. 29, 2013, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Nov. 8, 2013–Feb. 2, 2014, Brooklyn Museum, New York, N.Y. Anne Wilkes Tucker and Will Michaels, curators. War in the modern era is a beast—its grip on the human condition poorly understood, the breadth of its effects immense. From the time of Homer to the twenty-ﬁrst century the struggle to comprehend the human propensity for war has been ongoing. Since the mid-nineteenth century, war photographs have occupied a central place in that endeavor. Given their immediacy, presumed authenticity, and audience effect, images of war may affect public attitudes even more than ﬁlm or the written word, historians suggest. The images are capable of lodging in the public memory and, with time, may become meaning-bearing icons. In 2012 the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, mounted “War/Photography: Images of Armed Conﬂict and Its Aftermath,” an exhibition of nearly ﬁve hundred wartime images ranging from daguerreotypes of the Mexican-American War of 1846–1848 to photographs of the 2011 civil war in Libya. The display was unprecedented in its size and range; the interpretation was equally ambitious. Over the course of ten years of research Anne Wilkes Tucker Downloaded from http://jah.oxfordjournals.org/ at Knox College on April 3, 2014 brain injury with ﬁrst-person accounts of the person’s life after . The eleven portraits hanging in the show represent athletes, soldiers, car crash survivors, and television news reporters. This show underscores that while “concussion” may be a speciﬁc diagnostic category, the individual experience of a concussion has distinct and personal impacts far beyond the medical. These portraits are the only place where the museum foregrounds the idiosyncratic experience of illness or injury. Other recent programs with visiting artists suggest that the museum intends to continue these initiatives and introduce some individuality to the medical story. The National Museum of Health and Medicine faces complex challenges in its new space. The strange, curious specimens that motivate many visitors to trek out to Silver Spring complicate the museum’s claim to display serious medical (or military) history. Likewise, the museum’s current name promises a breadth of exhibits and topics that its ties to the Department of Defense ultimately restrain. In its public programs, such as the “organ of the month,” the is working to expand its content without shifting the exhibits’ focus on military medicine. Finally, the museum’s emphases on tools and pathology specimens mean that patient experience is absent from most of the museum. Continued work with artists and in public programs may help remedy this and allow the museum to move beyond its traditional focus on military medicine. Since 1862, the has struggled to blend public display, medical research, and military history. The museum’s new exhibits and building should be understood as part of this ongoing struggle to balance the general public’s interest in the “freaky” medical past with the scholar’s interest in material culture.
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