Is it really the case that almost all museum exhibitions dealing with medical themes these days are displaying DNA-images and colourful neuroscanning pictures?
Well, at least this is what the organisers of a meeting in Dresden next April seem to be suggesting. I think they are exaggerating a bit :-). But that said, the theme of the meeting — KörperGegenwart, neue Technologien, neue Sammlungen [contemporary bodies, new technologies, new collections] — is right on the spot.
The point of departure for the meeting — jointly organised by Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung in Berlin and Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden — is that the colonisation of the body by means of the life sciences has resulted in a gradual retreat from the immediately visible and material body.
The concepts, models and findings of contemporary biomedicine defy immediate visualisation, collecting and conservation. Therefore museums like Deutsche Hygiene-Museum, which was founded with the purpose of displaying the body, find themselves in an entirely new situation.
I couldn’t agree more — this is actually the central point in the paper on biomedicine as a challenge to museums that Adam, Camilla and I have just published. So we have every reason to participate (if we can: the meeting language is German and my German is rusty at best :-).
Rusty or not — it’s worth participating, because the meeting will address three types of timely questions for medical museums: first, the history of the techniques, tools and concepts by means of which the human body has been cut, dissected, interpreted and displayed; second, whether current biomedicine has made the body immaterial; and third, how the new biomedical body affects museum collection practices.
The meeting takes place 22-24 April next year. Read the call for papers here. If you want to participate, send a note to Stiftung Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, , or contact one of the four organisers: Sandra Mühlenberend (), Susanne Roeßiger (), Uta Kornmeier ( or Katrin Solhdju ().