From the cumbersome visit to the dentist to issues of greater health, "we all have our own history of medicine," the leaders of the London Science Museum stress in their ambition to "match that human aspect with scientific research and the possibilities offered by new technologies." The result of that purpose is the premiere this Saturday at its headquarters in the South Kensigton district of the largest space in the world devoted to the history of medicine, with a display of three thousand objects that propose a didactic and enjoyable, but also rigorous, journey over five centuries.
Between the countless pieces that nearly top the first floor of the museum (where a 24 million pound remodeling has expanded the space to 3,000 square meters) stand out the first stethoscope in history and the first MRI scanner, whose 2.5 tons of weight contrast with the delicacy of a miniature hospital armed in 1932 for advertising purposes. Or the unique design of a disc-shaped platform that has dozens of kidney and bile stones inserted, and which is part of the effort to present the collection in a not only attractive way but on almost artistic occasions.19th-century anatomical model in the workshops of Dr. Auzoux Science Museum
In the words of the project manager, Natasha McEnroe, "everyone here can find something that interests you": both the experts who will see the institution's impressive medical funds accessible, gathered in the so-called Wellcome collection, and a foot audience "for which museums have to be relevant, explaining what we expose without taking prior knowledge for granted." This audience, which represents 3.17 million visitors annually to the Museum of Science and of which half is international, are specially earmarked interactive panels with graphic information about objects and the possibility of inquiring about them in the virtual realm. As, for example, entering a beautiful wood-lined Victorian pharmacy and, after hearing how the apothecary makes recommendations to customers, "help" (digitally on screens arranged over the counter) to mix the ingredients of a recipe in the mortar.
The ensemble on display is spun into five thematic galleries that tell us about the vocation to understand our body, invite to explore a diversity of ancient or new medical artifacts, address the field of therapies, treatments and drugs, share personal experiences of patients (with photos, videos and audios) and conclude in a "contemplative" space entitled Faith, Hope and Fear. In this last room ("the least scientific," notes McEnroe), where a selection of ancient religious deities and amulets to fight evil eye or seek miraculous healing also takes place, also sports one of the two sculptures commissioned by the museum to celebrate the premiere: Holy Medicine, the work of the artist Eleanor Crook, who plays with that world of superstition and religion. Miniature hospital made to publicize King Edward Hospital.
The second statue, executed in bronze by Marc Quinn, hosts the wellcome galleries and from its spectacular 3.5 meters high depicting a young man (the real character of Rick Genest) who tattooed his entire body after learning that he had a brain tumor.
Each visitor will choose their priorities when it comes to touring a space whose charms could accommodate 1,500 hospital beds. But McEnroe especially recommends stopping at the "visual gift" of the central room, where a thousand objects have been arranged in a sculptural and gigantic panel. Porcelain containers, ancient surgical utensils, the artificial hand that allowed a pianist to play at the Royal Albert Hall in 1906 (precursor of the bionic arm printed in 3D last year), a backpack of the Sioux Indians to carry the baby and dating from the late nineteenth century... The exotism, variety and volume of the deployment corresponds to the greedy collector of the pharmaceutical magnate Henry Wellcome (1853-1936) whose legacy nourishes the medical funds that the Museum of Science has decided to reorder and enhance in a global center that underpins "public understanding of health and medicine". The ticket is free for everyone,