Warren Anatomical Museum Drawing in “Visual Science: The Art of Research” exhibition

By , September 19, 2019

Transverse section of pig embryo at 12 mm, facing, 1903, Warren Anatomical Museum, Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

On September 20, 2019 Harvard’s Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments will be opening an exhibition entitled “Visual Science: The Art of Research.” The exhibition, which features images and objects drawn from a variety of disciplines and time periods that show the importance of visual experiences in science, displays a reproduction of a Warren Anatomical Museum drawing of a pig embryo created in 1903. “Visual Science” is open Sunday – Fridays, 11am–4pm, in the 2nd floor gallery of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.

 Harvard Medical School illustrator Florence Byrnes created the original drawing of a transverse section of a pig embryo at 12 mm for Harvard Medical School Professor of Histology and Human Embryology Charles Sedgwick Minot’s 1903 Laboratory Textbook of Embryology. Three other original works by Byrnes of this same pig embryo were also printed in Minot’s textbook.

To make the drawing, Byrnes collaborated with Frederic T. Lewis, then an Instructor in Histology and Embryology. It is a reconstruction derived from hundreds of transverse sections prepared by Lewis. Outlines of individual sections were drawn through a microscope and camera lucida, measured, and compiled into the scale reconstruction by Byrnes. The shading was in part derived from a wax model reconstructed from the embryo sections. Minot believed that reconstructions such as these were highly advantageous in teaching given the very small scale of the original specimens. Despite Minot stating that two of Byrnes’s drawings, including this transverse section of a pig embryo, demonstrated “a special degree of skill and considerable faculty of plastic imagination,” he did not highlight Byrnes as the artist anywhere in the text outside of her signature on the drawings, choosing rather to focus on the histological contribution of Lewis.

Warren Anatomical Museum Exhibition Gallery Now Closed Until Spring 2021

By , August 21, 2019

Life cast and skull of Phineas Gage, Warren Anatomical Museum, Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library

As of Wednesday, 8/21/2019, the Warren Anatomical Museum exhibition gallery will be closed until Spring 2021 to prepare for its redesign as part of the larger renovation of the Countway Library of Medicine. Throughout August, the exhibits will be taken down both for their protection during the upcoming construction and to allow for the curation of the next iteration of the Warren Anatomical Museum exhibition gallery.

Keep an eye out on the Center for the History Medicine news feed and the Countway Library website for updates on the renovation and ways you can give input on the next Warren Anatomical Museum gallery.

Warren Anatomical Museum Gallery Temporarily Closing Until Spring 2021

By , August 14, 2019

Skull of Phineas Gage, Warren Anatomical Museum, Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

This fall, the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine will begin a multi-floor renovation requiring the temporary deinstallation of the Center for the History of Medicine’s Warren Anatomical Museum Gallery on the fifth floor. Throughout August, all of the artwork, artifacts, and specimens in the building are being taken down for their protection during construction. Plans are now underway to design and imagine the Gallery for its re-installation, including bringing new selections from the Museum’s rich holdings to the public Spring 2021.

The Warren Anatomical Museum will continue to offer educational sessions throughout the renovation and host a number of open houses during the fall and spring academic semesters. Please visit our event calendar this September for these limited-attendance programs. Also look for new content about Museum holdings on our new Museum landing page.

The last day to visit the Gallery and the skull of Phineas Gage is Tuesday, August 20, 2019.

 

Warren Anatomical Museum Exhibition Gallery Closed December 22, 2018 through January 2, 2019.

By , December 22, 2018

Eagle skeleton prepared by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Countway Library of Medicine

The Warren Anatomical Museum Exhibition Gallery on the 5th floor of the Countway Library of Medicine will be closed Monday 12/24/2018 through Tuesday 01/01/2019 for the Harvard University holiday break. The entire Countway, including the Warren Museum, will reopen on Wednesday, 01/02/2019. More about the Museum’s and Library’s hours can be found on the Countway website.

 

Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery Closing at 3:00 pm on Friday, November 3rd.

By , October 31, 2017

The Warren Anatomical Museum Exhibition Gallery is closing early on Friday, November 3rd. There will be no public admittance after 3:00 pm. This coincides with the larger closing of the Countway Library of Medicine. As usual, there will be no access to the Gallery on Saturday or Sunday.

More information about visiting the Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery can be found on the Center for the History of Medicine website.

 

Skull and life mask of Phineas Gage, Warren Anatomical Museum, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Nutshell Studies Loaned to Renwick Gallery for Exhibition

By , October 13, 2017
Frances Glessner Lee and Alan R. Moritz working with furnishings for the Nutshell Studies, 1948. Records of the Department of Legal Medicine, Harvard Medical Library

Frances Glessner Lee and Alan R. Moritz working with furnishings for the Nutshell Studies, 1948. Records of the Department of Legal Medicine, Harvard Medical Library

In 1946, Frances Glessner Lee donated the first ten models of what have become known as the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death to Harvard Medical School’s Department of Legal Medicine. She followed that gift with seven more models in 1948, eventually giving a total of eighteen Nutshells to the Medical School. The Nutshells, intricate dioramas depicting mysterious homicides, suicides, and natural deaths, were built by Lee to serve as teaching tools for the Harvard Associates in Police Science seminars that she hosted each year. In 1967, the Department of Legal Medicine closed, and Harvard loaned the Nutshell Studies to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Baltimore, Maryland, where Department of Legal Medicine alumnus Russell Fisher was the medical examiner. Fisher moved the Harvard Associates in Police Science seminars to Baltimore and kept the teaching mission of the Nutshells alive.

For the first time since being loaned to Baltimore, the eighteen Harvard Nutshells will be on display for the public. They are being hosted by the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery for their exhibition Murder is Her Hobby. In addition to the Harvard Nutshells, the exhibition will also display a nineteenth Glessner Lee Nutshell from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, courtesy of the Bethlehem Heritage Society. The exhibition will run from October 20, 2017 to January 28, 2018. More information regarding Murder is Her Hobby can be found on the Renwick Gallery website, in the Washington Post, and in HMS news.

More information about the Department for Legal Medicine can be found in Corpus Delicti: The Doctor as the Detective, a physical and digital exhibit curated by Center for the History of Medicine Public Service Librarian Jack Eckert.

Center hosts Massachusetts high school students for Phineas Gage symposium

By , December 6, 2016
Microsoft Word - Phineas Gage Flyer.docx

Colloquium on Phineas Gage flyer, Courtesy of Nancy Donlon

The Center for the History of Medicine hosted forty students and seven teachers from six area high schools on November 28th for a half-day “Colloquium on Phineas Gage: A Scientific Inquiry.” The AP Psychology and AP Biology students came from schools across eastern Massachusetts and included Medford High SchoolBurlington High SchoolJohn D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and ScienceArlington High SchoolBraintree High School, and Dedham High School. The program was developed and organized by Medford High School AP Psychology teacher Nancy Donlon and was generously supported by the Medford Educational Foundation. Director Scott Podolsky, MD and Warren Museum curator Dominic Hall participated from the Center.

The students were exposed to a panel of Harvard Medical School and independent scholars who presented diverse material on the historical character of Gage and on modern medicine’s

Phineas Gage colloquium t-shirt. Courtesy of Kaitlin Donlon.

Phineas Gage colloquium t-shirt. Courtesy of Kaitlin Donlon.

understanding of the human brain. Harvard Medical School associate professor and Massachusetts General Hospital neurosurgeon Frederick Barker, MD placed the Gage narrative within the 19th-century debates surrounding neuroscience and the rejection and adoption of cerebral localization. Independent scholar Matthew L. Lena discussed the problematic fictions that have been tied to Phineas Gage’s patient history and how one integral case study can inform, support or hinder modern medical practice. The panel concluded with associate director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School assistant professor Steven Schlozman, MD‘s presentation on the modern understanding of how adolescent and teenage minds hold information and processes emotion through the construction of narratives.

The colloquium ended with the students breaking into groups and exploring the content presented from the three panelists and their renewed sense of the Gage narrative.

 

Phineas Gage 3D Print!

By , December 5, 2016
Phineas Gage 3D Print, Courtesy of Graham Holt, Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Boston Children’s Hospital

Phineas Gage 3D Print, Courtesy of Graham Holt, Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Boston Children’s Hospital

One of the most interesting developments in the renewed teaching capacity and impact of Phineas Gage is the recent establishment of a printable 3D model of well-known patient’s skull. The print file was created by Graham Holt at the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital, and is based on the 2004 thin-slice computed tomography scans of Peter Raitu and Ion-Florin Talos. The file grants a tangible portability to the Gage skull given that the original usually stays safety ensconced in the Warren Museum Exhibit Gallery. Holt’s 3D print had been downloaded 725 times as of October 3rd. The project was featured on the May 5th 3D Printing Today Podcast (segment at 1:02:30). The Warren Anatomical Museum has been using its own version of the Holt print in on-site, hands-on educational programs.

The print file for the Gage skull can be found in the following two places:

The capacity to print a version of Gage’s skull is an exciting addition to the Gage educational experience. More about the original CT scan is discussed in Ratiu, P., Talos, I. F., Haker, S., Lieberman, D., & Everett, P. (2004). “The tale of Phineas Gage, digitally remastered.” Journal of neurotrauma, 21(5), 637-643. More about the Phineas Gage case in general can be found on Malcolm Macmillan’s Phineas Gage Information Page.

 

Recent Additions to the Warren Anatomical Museum

By , November 17, 2016

2016 has been a dynamic year for building the holdings of the Warren Anatomical Museum collection. New acquisitions came in representing the legacy and contributions of multiple Harvard health science institutions, including 20th-century narratives that were not well documented by the museum’s current collections. Multiple spirometers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health were added to the collection. A Garceau Junior electroencephalograph, a device with technical origins at Harvard Medical School, was given to the Warren. The museum acquired a set of medical instruments formerly belonging to HMS graduate Ralph Clinton Larrabee, whose personal papers are in the Center for the History of Medicine and the Harvard University Archives. Two sampling pumps from the Six Cities Study were given to the museum. Among these wonderful additions, three new accessions to the Warren Anatomical Museum are further detailed below.

Wilgus Daguerreotype of Phineas Gage, 1850-1860. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Wilgus Daguerreotype of Phineas Gage, 1850-1860. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The skull, life cast and tamping iron of Phineas Gage are the items most associated with the current and historical Warren Anatomical Museum. Many of the visitors to the Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery in the Countway Library come to visit Phineas and the majority of the educational programs conducted in the Gallery revolve around the ever-evolving Gage narrative. Thanks to the generosity of Jack and Beverly Wilgus, the sixth plate cased daguerreotype of Phineas Gage (the Wilgus daguerreotype) has been added to the museum for the future benefit of scholars and public. The Wilguses identified the image as Phineas Gage in 2009 and their discovery led to articles in the Smithsonian Magazine and The Boston Globe. The Wilguses maintain a website on their journey with the Gage daguerreotype called “Finding Phineas.” Their kind gift has helped humanize the much-studied Gage as prior illustrations focused on his skull and life cast.

The museum was also lucky enough to purchase a Sanborn Company Viso-Cardiette that was given to Nobel Laureate Albert Schweitzer by Harvard cardiologist Paul Dudley White and used in cardiac research at Schweitzer’s hospital in

Sanborn Company Viso-Cardiette, 1960. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Sanborn Company Viso-Cardiette, 1960. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Gabon in 1960. The device was utilized in a scientific study by David Miller and Steven Spencer entitled “Survey of cardiovascular disease among Africans in the vicinity of the Albert Schweitzer hospital in 1960,” published in The American Journal of Cardiology in 1962. It struggled to perform in the climate around the hospital and had to be modified repeatedly, much of which is detailed in the Paul Dudley White papers at the Center for the History of Medicine. The research and Viso-Cardiette are also discussed in Oglesby Paul’s biography of White, Take Heart. The Life and Prescription for Living of Paul Dudley White.  As an artifact, the Viso-Cardiette touches on multiple historical narratives such as scientific interventions from the West into Africa and the collaborations between high-profile physicians and hospitals.

Pressure gauge from hyperbaric chamber, 1928. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Pressure gauge from hyperbaric chamber, 1928. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The museum was also excited to receive one of the few known items to survive from the Harvard School of Public Health’s scientific hyperbaric chamber from the School’s tenure at 55 Shattuck Street in Boston. The Warren was generously given a pressure gauge that was preserved by several scientists after the chamber was decommissioned and dismantled from what is now part of Boston Children’s Hospital. The 31-foot long chamber was designed and installed by the School’s Department of Physiology and Industrial Hygiene in 1928 in order to study the physiological effects of various pressures. Its design specifics are discussed in a 1932 paper in the Journal of Industrial Hygiene entitled “A pressure chamber for studying the physiological effects of pressures varying from six to sixty pounds per square inch absolute.” When Children’s Hospital leased the site from the School of Public Health, they adapted the chamber for therapeutic use, eventually leading to the 1965 installation of a new hyperbaric chamber at the site specifically designed for the hospital’s clinical needs. The gauge serves as an excellent tangible reminder of this work at both institutions and speaks to a trajectory of experimental legacy informing clinical practice.

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