The Daily Dose Presents: NYAM Festival featuring Morbid Anatomy

uNew on the Daily Dose! A Press Release from NYAM!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                    

NYAM’s Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health Launches New Festival on Saturday, October 5

Dr. Oliver Sacks and a rarely screened WW II Naval training film on combat fatigue starring Gene Kelly to headline free all-day public event with guest curators Lawrence Weschler and Brooklyn’s “Morbid Anatomy”

 New York, NY (September 4, 2013) – The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) announces its first “Festival of Medical History and the Arts,” presented by NYAM’s Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health. The Center for History is NYAM’s newest center, with a mission to preserve and promote the heritage of medicine and public health.

On Saturday, October 5 the Center will open its doors to the public for a day of free events from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Festival celebrates artists, scholars, writers and thinkers working at the intersections of history, medicine, art and the humanities.

With activities on three floors, a café and book stall, visitors will be able to drop by for an hour or stay for the day. The New York Academy of Medicine and friends will present a widely varied program, including an introduction to bibliophilic delights drawn from some of its more than 500,000 volumes, behind-the-scenes tours of its book and paper conservation laboratory, and other historical gems, plus a rarely screened film from the National Library of Medicine’s collection starring Gene Kelly as a sailor suffering combat fatigue.

The Center will also welcome two guest curators to its Festival of Medical History and Arts. Lawrence Weschler will present one of his well-known “Wonder Cabinets” and curate a day of presentations featuring Oliver Sacks, Bill Hayes, Riva Lehrer, Jane Gauntlett, a “dendrites versus galaxies” slapdown, gruesomely belabored royal deaths, and anatomy lessons from Rembrandt to Gray.  Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy will present anatomical drawing workshops, a medical wax moulage demonstration, and speakers including Carl Schoonover on pre-modern neuroscience, Daniel Margocsy on “artist of death” Frederik Ruysch, Mark Dery on his adventures in the NYAM library, and other explorations of the surprisingly fertile intersections of art and medicine.

All events will be free, except for the anatomical workshops and an “after-party” at the conclusion of the Festival. There, guests will be treated to an open bar, medically-inspired tunes by DJ Friese Undine, and cartoons from the National Library of Medicine’s collections spanning the silent era to the early 1960s curated by historian Michael Sappol.

For further details and a schedule of the day’s activities, visit Workshop and after-party places will be limited, so register now. Visit the Center’s blog at to learn more about its collections and public programming and sign up for updates. The Center is open to the public, by appointment, Tuesday through Friday.

Press Contact:
Abigail Franklin                                                                                                               
Tel:  212.822.7244

The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) advances the health of people in cities. An independent organization since 1847, NYAM addresses the health challenges facing the world’s urban populations through interdisciplinary approaches to policy leadership, innovative research, evaluation, education, and community engagement. Drawing on the expertise of diverse partners worldwide and more than 2,000 elected Fellows from across the professions, NYAM’s current priorities are to create environments in cities that support healthy aging; to strengthen systems that prevent disease and promote the public’s health; to eliminate health disparities; and to preserve and promote the heritage of medicine and public health.

Paris Journey at its End

May 10-May 18–eight days, two train rides, one “security breach,” numerous museums and more French bread than a reasonable constitution can consume without practice. At last, we (Women’s and Gender Studies class on history of birth) have returned from Paris.

I can safely say the students enjoyed the journey (feel free to check out their blog at WAGS348). I also greatly enjoyed the trip–that’s me in the cemetery looking very queen-of-the-dead pleased with myself–but by evensong, I was too exhausted to be particularly consistent with the blog.

Alas, I provide the summary instead:

I allowed the students the weekend to adjust. They were encouraged to visit museums in groups. Classes began in the morning (except for Sunday, when a number of them went to Notre Dame cathedral). We discussed the books, the class parameters and–of course–the mysteries of the Metro. We met again for dinner each evening to detox and discuss the day. Then, by Monday, the concentrated museum visits began.

Musée d’histoire de la médecine

We began with the museum in downtown Paris at l’Universite Paris Descartes. A wonderful collection of tools, it helped to illustrate what our books had been teaching us about the history of medecine.

Musée Flaubert et d’histoire de la médecine — The Museum of Flaubert and the History of Medicine

Tuesday, we trained to Rouen to see two museums. We went to the Natural History museum, which has an excellent collection and very knowledgeable tour guides. Birth and care of infants among animals was primary. More specific to our class was the museum of medical history that housed Madame du Coudray’s last surviving birthing phantom–a doll the students had read about, right before their eyes! The guide, who spoke excellent English (necessary as the students were not fluent in French), gave us extra details–including a look at an ossified fetus. It had been found during the autopsy of a woman, and had been inside her body for over 20 years!

Wellcome Library

We had the best of intentions to go to the Wellcome Library in London on Wednesday. However, a security breach (in the form of an open fire door) closed down the station for so long that we had to cancel the trip. It was very disappointing, as the students were going to get reader cards, have a presentation and see materials at the collection. However, we made the best of it and several students were able to see the catacombs on this day instead–the end rather than the beginning of life.

The students have demonstrated their confidence, their aptitude, and their ability for creative thinking. They have made connections between history and culture that are not possible without such experiences. I look forward to their final projects (all of which sound interesting) and to our final excursion–a trip to the Mayo Clinic Birthing Center. We have traveled through time and space on this gender-studies tour of birth; I am pleased to say that it has been a success (though an exhausting one for the professor, who has been juggling schedules and receipts for 15 people in total…and doing most of the daily translation!)

Thank you to all who participated, all who provided help or opened your doors to the students and myself.

Note: I have not said much about the food. I don’t need to. They have all been taking photos and posting about every morsel. I shall try to compile some of that–but in the meantime, I leave you with a quote from my student Becky:

I thought it was heaven, but it’s cheese. And its better!


Paris: Musée de l’histoire de la médecine

Museums of Medicine

One of my main goals for this trip was researching the possibility of a student trip in 2012. I spent, therefore, a good bit of the trip doing the practicum: that is, I was attempting to master logistics of travel, lodging, food and incidentals. Once I had sorted out which Metro stations students would need to know, where best to purchase tickets,  and whether the hostel would be hospitable, I still needed to trace out a museum tour. I was once again greatly helped in this quest by Dr. Edmonson, who–rather like my EIC Woody Gaines–knows and is known by everyone. (A joke among the staff of CMP is that Dr. Gaines does not just know stuff, he knows the president of stuff–Dr. Edmonson is of a kind). Through his help, I was introduced to the Musée de l’histoire de la médecine, which is actually located inside the Université Paris Descartes. It is on the upper floor, a fabulous room of Victorian appeal, rich wood and fascinating  exhibitions.

The Musée de l’histoire de la médecine is curated by Marie-Véronique Clin-Meyer, president of the European Association of Museums of the History of the Medical Sciences and hosted the Council meeting in her museum in the past. It will be a good introduction for the students, who will also be visiting the Musée Flaubert et d’histoire de la médecine, where one of the original birthing phantoms of Madame du Coudray is still housed. A further benefit of Mme Clin-Meyer’s museum, however, is the artwork. There as a number of very interesting paintings housed there, including a large canvas marking the opening of Jean Martin Charcot’s lecture in 1882. The painting is described in the museum’s visitor booklet, which describes these lectures and Charcot’s election to chair of nervous diseases as the dawn of neurology.