Current and Past Exhibits

Current Exhibits

"Teratology: The Science and History of Human Monstrosity," in the Rotunda of the Medical Library

Dates: January 22nd-May 15th, 2015

Curated by Courtney Thompson, doctoral candidate in the History of Science and Medicine, and Melissa Grafe, Ph.D, John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History
From early modern marvels to sideshow performers, the abnormal body has provoked wonder and fascination, even as it has inspired the scientific study of monsters. This exhibit explores the history of the science of human monstrosity, from early modern accounts of human-animal hybrids and prodigies through to present-day explorations of birth defects. The exhibit traces the different approaches to human abnormalities/monstrosity since the fifteenth century, demonstrating the various ways in which monsters have been described, explained, classified, and displayed to an interested public.

"Prodigies and Marvels" on view in the main Hallway of the Medical Library, curated by Susan Wheeler

Dates: January 22nd-May 15th, 2015

Many of the individuals who evoked wonder were well known to contemporary audiences through the dissemination of inexpensive broadsides and prints. A selection from the Library’s extensive, and seldom seen, collection on this subject introduces a few of these individuals from the 16th through the early 19th centuries. The exhibit was prepared by Medical Library curator Susan Wheeler.

"100 Years of Public Health at Yale" in the Foyer of the Medical Library
Curated by Toby Appel, Ph.D, and Melissa Grafe, Ph.D, John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History

Dates: January 29th-May 15th, 2015

The Yale School of Public Health celebrates its centennial throughout 2015. One of the oldest accredited schools of public health in this country, it today advances public health through research, education and practice in its home city of New Haven, across the United States and throughout the world.  This exhibit examines the rise of public health at Yale beginning with the appointment of C.E.A. Winslow in 1915 through the work of the School in the present day.


Past Exhibits

September 22nd, 2014 - January 16th, 2015
Vesalius at 500
The Library celebrates the important collection of Vesaliana bequeathed by its founder Harvey Cushing. Highlighting seldom seen works by Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), considered the founder of modern anatomy, the exhibit includes Vesalius' first published anatomical illustrations – the Tabulae Anatomicae Sex (Six charts of the human body) and the Epitome, the beautiful digest of De Fabrica... , Vesalius’s great text. Three copies of De Humani Corporis Fabrica (The fabric of the human body) one of the great books of the renaissance renowned for its content, form, design, and illustration, will also be on view together with Cushing’s letters and notes pertaining to his collection. In the Cushing Rotunda
The Body as a Machine
Fritz Kahn, physician and popular writer, applied visual metaphor to make the structure and function of the human body understandable to the general public. The posters which accompanied his three volume Das Leben Des Menschen (1922-1926) are displayed with other works which illustrate and complement the metaphor.  In the Hallway, Medical Library.
The Dangers of Underage Drinking and Other Historical Posters
A 1971 series of brightly colored anti-alcohol posters aimed at teenagers, a selection of STD warnings in the form of comic strips, and a 1956 movie poster "I've Lived Before" which recalls the popular theme of reincarnation derived from hypnosis, are among the materials on view in this exhibit. In Library Foyer, Sterling Hall

May 15th-September 12th, 2014
Selling Smoke: Tobacco Advertising and Anti-smoking Campaigns
The tobacco industry has been selling smoke in America and other countries for well over a century. From sultry ladies to Santa, tobacco advertisers slickly packaged smoking in a variety of ways to lure consumers to different brands. Using celebrity spokespeople, touting health benefits, sponsoring racing and other sports, employing product placement, and creating games with prizes are just a small sampling of the ways smoking was sold. "Selling Smoke" exhibits a wide array of tobacco advertising from the William Van Duyn collection of magazine advertisements, ephemera, articles, and photographs. Anti-smoking campaign materials from a variety of public health organizations, multiple U.S. Surgeons General, and others are also be on display, tracing worldwide efforts to stamp out smoking. Discover the entire collection through the finding aid.

January 23rd-May 2nd, 2014
"The Perfect Man" and other acquisitions

In 1895, the original bodybuilder Eugen Sandow was proclaimed “the perfect man” by Dudley Sargent (YMS 1878).  In 1827, former slave Belfast Burton was paid tribute by his patients and mentor in a rare broadside testimonial circulated in Philadelphia.  In 1871, J.J. Woodward shared the first micrographs taken in sunlight with the Surgeon General.  In 1891, Victor Emile Prouvé employed the most delicate coloring to render opium’s intoxicating sleep state in an art print distributed through subscription portfolio.   In 1902, James Haran, British medical officer in newly founded Nairobi, attended all the victims of plague (the first of many outbreaks) leaving complete case records.   In 1922, artist Käthe Kollwitz created pro bono a poster announcing public events during Anti-Alcohol Week in Schöneberg, a locality of Berlin. In 1978, Rachel Romero and the San Francisco Poster Brigade plastered the city with activist art “To Hell with their Profits:  Stop Forced Drugging of Psychiatric Inmates” produced for the Mental Patients Liberation Movement. They are a small sampling of the substantial number of acquisitions through endowment made by the Historical Library, Cushing\Whitney Medical Library.
"The Morphine Addict by Eugene Grasset" and other select acquisitions
In the Hallway, Medical Library
A Cure for What Ails You: Songs from the Library's Sheet Music Collection
This exhibit celebrates a new collection of medically themed sheet music recently donated to the Medical Historical Library by William Helfand, retired pharmaceutical company executive, historian of medicine, and collector. There are over a thousand items in the collection on medical providers, purveyors of remedies, ailments both real and imagined, cures for all purposes (especially for lovesickness), health songs for children, and music advertising patent medicines. Most of the music was written for public entertainment, whether in London music halls, Parisian theaters, or American vaudeville and early musicals. Later songs in the collection were aired on the radio, featured in movies, recorded on record labels, or served as themes for TV shows on doctors and hospitals. Songs range from “The Cork Leg,” a traditional Irish song about a self-propelling prosthetic cork leg, to Loretta Lynn singing about the advantages of “The Pill.” The engraved and lithographed covers of the music provide striking images of medicine and popular culture. Discover the entire collection through the finding aid.  In Library Foyer, Sterling Hall

November 18th, 2013-January 17th, 2014
Books of Secrets: Alchemy, Medicine, and Magic
The exhibit was the midterm assignment of Prof. Paola Bertucci’s undergraduate seminar: Spies, Secrets, and Science (HSHM 459a/HIST 159Ja/HUMS 317a). Books of secrets were cheap publications that divulged medicinal, alchemical, artisanal, and other kinds of “secrets” of nature and the arts. Mostly compilations of recipes or how-to manuals, they met with extraordinary success beginning in the sixteenth century, being translated into several languages and reprinted in various editions up until the nineteenth century.

September 16th-November 15th, 2013
Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière: The Physician and the Hysterical Women
The Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière (1876-80), a landmark publication in medical photography, is on view in the Rotunda of the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library.  This collection of texts and photographs represents the female patients of Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière hospital and asylum during the years of his tenure as director. The patients, diagnosed primarily with hysteria or epilepsy, were treated at the asylum even as they acted as experimental subjects for Charcot’s development of the hysteria diagnosis. This collection represents a transformative moment in the history of the diagnosis, treatment, and representation of mental illness. The exhibit was organized by Courtney Thompson, doctoral student in the Program in the History of Medicine, and Susan Wheeler, Curator for Prints and Drawings at the Medical Library.
“La Femme” (1886) by French artist Paul-Albert Besnard. 
Besnard created a series of prints on the possible life events of women in the late 19th century.  In the Hallway, Medical Library.

Nursing at 90: A celebration of the Yale School of Nursing Alumni.
The exhibit highlights the contributions of the Nursing program and its graduates to Yale, the profession, and the world. Curated by Janene Batten with the help of Melissa Grafe.  On view in the Medical Library foyer until January 10, 2014.  In addition, as part of the 90th Anniversary of the Yale School of Nursing the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library has digitized the large collection of historical YSN alumni newsletters, memorabilia, and class photos dating from 1926.

July 22nd-September 12, 2013
"Eight Interesting Objects"
Recent acquisitions in the Cushing Rotunda
Selections from the New Global Health Collection
The Medical Historical Library recently acquired over 2600 global public health and safety posters, representing 56 countries and multiple languages. On display are selections from this collection, promoting a variety of public health messages, including anti-drug and anti-smoking campaigns, maternal and child health, population control, clean water, and prevention of diseases such as malaria and cholera. In Library Foyer, Sterling Hall

April-July 2013
Unveiling Medicine's Past:  Medical Historical Collections Online
The Medical Historical Library’s digital collection includes Yale School of Medicine photographs, portraits of 16th Century anatomist Andreas Vesalius, Harvey Cushing and others, as well as rare books, medical and surgical instruments, prints, posters, and drawings, and much more! This exhibit demystifies the process of digitization and showcases Yale’s rich medical historical collections.

January 16th-April 1st, 2013
Portraits of Wounded Bodies:  Photographs of Civil War Soldiers from Harewood Hospital, Washington, D.C., 1863-1866
The Medical Historical Library explores Civil War medicine through the haunting photographs of wounded soldiers. In the foyer of Sterling Hall, the exhibit expands to include a larger discussion of Civil War medicine and surgery, including hospitals and nurses, using images and materials from the Medical Historical Library. An online version of the Harewood Hospital photographs is available in the Digital Library.  In Cushing Rotunda, Medical Library and Foyer, Sterling Hall
Selections from the Collection of Prints and Drawings and the Historical Medical Poster Collection
Eyewitness renderings of medicine in the field during World War I and World War II, together with posters from various wartime agencies, show part of the war experience and its effect on individuals.  In the Hallway, Medical Library

September 22nd, 2012-January 13th, 2013
Medicine at Work: A Selection of Instruments and Materials from the Medical Historical Library
An online version of our collection of Medical Instruments and Artifacts is available in the Digital Library.
Selected from the Historical Medical Poster Collection and the Collection of Prints and Drawings

June 22-September 17, 2012
"Family Doctor" by Grant Wood and Works by Other Mid 20th Century American Artists
in Hallway
Food and Nutrition posters in Foyer
Maternity Care in Pictures: A Portfolio of 31 Teaching Charts Showing Safe Maternity Care, 1939 in Rotunda
Published by the Maternity Center Association
This set of small posters, shown in its entirety, was designed for parenting classes, waiting rooms, and formal exhibits.  Many of the posters employed “photomontage” which combined a photographic image with a drawn background—a “modern” graphic technique which served to reinforce the “modern” message. 

The Maternity Center Association in New York developed the first classes for expectant parents as part of comprehensive maternity services.   In 1938, it offered the first classes for fathers.  This set has been digitized and is online in the Historical Poster Collection

March 5-June 18, 2012
Medicine in Shakespeare’s London
This exhibit was part of the campus-wide celebration of Shakespeare.  Shakespeare included many medical references in his plays, such as the plague, midwifery, herbals, astrological medicine, and surgery.   This exhibit explores these themes and features works in early anatomy, surgery, and botanicals from the Medical Historical Collection.  Parts of this exhibit are available online.

Online Exhibits