The British museum communicator Ken Arnold has been appointed as new creative director at Medical Museion at the University of Copenhagen. Ken Arnold is currently head of public programmes at Wellcome Collection, one of London’s fastest growing and most innovative venues. He brings over 20 years’ experience of staging critically acclaimed exhibitions and events exploring the connections between medicine, art and life. His dual roles in Copenhagen and London will foster new collaborative dialogues around public engagement with science and art.
“I am proud of welcoming an internationally strong profile like Ken Arnold. I am greatly looking forward to working with him, and I am extremely pleased that both the University of Copenhagen and the City of Copenhagen stand to benefit from his extensive experience and visionary approaches to research and science communication,” says Dean Ulla Wewer from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.
Medical Museion holds one the richest historical collections of medical artefacts in Europe, containing some 250,000 artefacts dating back to the early 17th Century. Ken Arnold has been associated with Medical Museion as a visiting professor since 2010, working closely with the Director, Professor Thomas Söderqvist. Under the leadership of Thomas Söderqvist, it has developed into one of the leading museums of its kind in the world with a dynamic research and curatorial programme combining academic enquiry around the medical humanities with prize-winning exhibitions and events.
Ken Arnold has worked in museums on both sides of Atlantic and, since 1992, has been responsible for interdisciplinary cultural projects at the Wellcome Trust, the global medical foundation based in London. His tenure has seen exhibitions at the V&A, a gallery exploring medicine in context at the Science Museum, and the landmark exhibition ‘Medicine Man: The forgotten museum of Henry Wellcome’ at the British Museum.
Innovative communication of unique historical collection
“I am honored and delighted to be taking up the Creative Directorship of Medical Museion. Building on its extensive national and international reputation, I eagerly look forward to leading this unique organization into its next exciting chapter. I believe that it can play an increasingly significant role within the university, hosting ground-breaking, inter-disciplinary projects and enquiries; and that through them its public profile will grow to give it a bolder and better-heard voice in Copenhagen’s cultural conversation,” says Ken Arnold.
Farewell to inspiring and ambitious director
Ken Arnold is taking over as creative director from Professor Thomas Söderqvist who since 1999 has been working to develop and strengthen the profile of Medical Museion as well as fostering a critical and constructive understanding of medical science and technology now and in the future.
Ken Arnold – facts
Ken Arnold holds a PhD in the history of science from Princeton University and a BA in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University, and published his ‘Cabinets for the Curious: Looking back at English Museums’ in 2005. He has extensive experience working for and with a wide variety of museums and has, since 1992, worked on cultural projects for the Wellcome Trust.
Arnold co-ordinated the establishment of the Trust’s arts funding initiatives, which support collaborative works between scientists and artists. He set up and leads a team which runs Wellcome Collection, an internationally lauded London venue which offers culturally inspired public engagement with medicine and wellbeing, attracting over half a million yearly visits.
Arnold is director, trustee and advisor to numerous bodies and committees and was awarded the RSA Bicentenary medal in 2011 for services to design and society. He is widely published and lectures regularly on the culture of museums past and present and the relationships and intersections between the arts and sciences. Arnold will combine the role of Creative Director of Medical Museion in Copenhagen with a new position as Creative Director at the Wellcome Trust from Spring 2016, focused on evolving the cultural activities of Wellcome Collection beyond London, developing international and national projects across exhibitions, tours, live events, publications, digital and broadcast platforms.
About Medical Museion
Medical Museion is a combined museum and research unit at the University of Copenhagen. It was founded on a private initiative in 1907 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Danish Medical Association. Medical Museion has one of the biggest and richest historical collections of medical artefacts in Europe. The collections contain about 250,000 artefacts and a large image collection, a document archive, and a historical book collection. The current exhibition – The Body Collected – opened May 2015 and is already a huge success.
Thomas Söderqvist was initially hired in 1999 as a professor of history of medicine and his primary responsibility for the museum over the next 15 years, along with a growing team of young researchers and museum curators has been to create a brand new medical museum. Under his leadership, the museum today has a strong international research profile, which has included a series of exhibitions, events and art installations that have built bridges between art, design, humanities and health sciences, all showcased in the newly renovated rooms. As a result of this work Medical Museion is today one of Europe’s leading medical museums and an internationally renowned and prize-winning museum.
The focus of Medical Museion’s research programme is medical history, medical humanities, medical science communication and medical museology. The museum has currently about 15 researchers and curators, including PhD students, attached.