One of the sessions at last month’s conference on ‘Contemporary medical science and technology as a challenge to museums’ in Copenhagen focused on visual media in exhibitions.

Ramunas Kondratas, formerly National Museum of American History (Smithsonian), presented the idea of using video footage to document biomedical machinery too large to collected or exhibited in the traditional fashion.

He showed us a video of how an ultracentrifuge is put together step by step in the manufacturing shop as a way of exhibiting the making of a contemporary scientific object instead of the end result. Read Ray’s full abstract here.

The next speaker Danny Birchall, Wellcome Collection, presented his project ‘Medical London’, a photo pool on Flickr where everyone can upload their own photos related to medicine. He sees the project as less formal, multi-authored way of collecting people’s experiences with the medical sciences.

Danny hopes this way sharing visual experiences might throw up new and unexpected aesthetics of the history of medicine for curators and museum people to work with. Read Danny’s full abstract here.


A heated debate followed on whether we should embrace the possibilities created by digital media, or whether the museum should remain a safe harbor from the ubiquitous digital world. Can we take part both in the digitalization of the world and the counterrevolution back to engagement with physical objects, or do we have to choose? The discussion included comments from Robert Martensen, Lucy Lyons, Thomas Söderqvist, Suzanne Anker, Joanna Ebenstein and Tacye Phillipson.

See a list of all abstracts from the conference here. Read more about the EAMHMS video clip project here.

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