Last week, the Steno Museum at Aarhus University launched their most recent temporary exhibition. Named ‘ÆGløsninger‘, the display deals with reproduction, and especially with recent technologies aimed at either preventing or facilitating pregnancy. The exhibition is curated by Morten Skydsgaard and Mette Kia Krabbe Meyer.
The exhibition is aimed at a wide audience, and it makes an effort to reach school children and thus fulfill a didactic purpose important for the Steno Museum. One way to do so is to offer educational material in the areas of prevention, artificial insemination, gene technology, and cloning, and inviting visitors to take part in discussions of the ethical aspects of these new technologies.
Another very interesting strategy for engaging the audience and moving beyond tradition museum displays is to make room for interaction with the technologies presented, and to allow for the phenomenology of reproduction and related technologies to become immediately apparent. Visitors are invited to crawl into a uterus, described as “nice and soft”; computer simulation of microinsemination is supposed to give audiences “the feeling of being able to create life”; and the museum also promises to give anybody, regardless of age or sex, the possibility to experience the physical state of being pregnant.
Capturing the phenomenology of recent biomedicine is one of the issues that have been raised repeatedly at seminars at the Medical Museion, and I think that when it comes to exhibitions, the only way forward is to offer hands on-experience to visitors. Yet when it comes to written texts, the textures and temperatures of medicotechnological equipment may be much harder to include in anything but a representational and interpreted manner.