Thursday, February 4, 2010

Collecting and curating today for tomorrow's medical museum

Amphitheatre in the Medical Museion, Copenhagen.

The EAMHMS (European Association of Museums of the History of the Medical Sciences) will meet September 16-18 in Copenhagen to address the challenges posed by contemporary developments in medical science and technology. The official site for the conference, just now up and running, raises these issues: “How do museums today handle the material and visual heritage of contemporary medical and health science and technology? How do curators wield the increasing amount and kinds of intangible scientific and digital objects? Which intellectual, conceptual, and practical questions does this challenge give rise to?”

Conference host Thomas Söderqvist and his team at the Medical Museion have been grappling with such questions over the past five years, and are thus well-positioned to take the lead in helping the rest of us come to terms with such challenges. Simply put, we need to collect today for tomorrow, and to give some thought to that process. Much of what we will be collecting will be “black box” technology, without the charm of ivory-handled instruments or the artful grace of anatomical models. But we needn’t let that put us off the task, and I hope to derive a lot of inspiration in Copenhagen this coming September.

Hope to see you there!

Jim Edmonson

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