ALCMAEON (2018-2020)

Erasmus+ Programme, Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices (€225,000)

Medical history is commonly included in the program of medical humanities courses available for undergraduate medical students. The role of medical humanities in medical education responds to the need to connect medical practice with the human dimension of doctor-patient relationship and extra-scientific values involved in clinical decision-making processes. Medical humanities contribute to improve a fuller understanding of patients, cultures and communities, as well as the social dimension of scientific enterprise to cure illnesses and develop new therapies.Nowadays medical humanities courses at medical schools are frequently fragmented, due to the participation in the teaching activities of lecturers with different expertise, each one working on a separated and independent module. In these circumstances the teaching of medical history has been consistently affected by the lack of expertise of lecturers and the reduction of historians of medicine in medical schools.

The ALCMAEON project represents an alternative model of medical history provision and an attempt to overcome the gap between clinical practice and historical perspective of medical humanities, through the representation of the historical scenarios and the integration of historical evidences in specific educational contents. ALCMAEON will collect audio-visual material and digitise objects from medical museums in Italy, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands and Romania, in an attempt to promote the different traditions characterizing European medical history and bring the heritage of medical museums into the classroom. Our digital collection will be open access and supported through educational material to promote the cultural patrimony of university museums among the medical students of European Union and will contribute to disseminate a cross-cultural model of medicine to face the challenges of future health care services. The project is led by Professor Fernando Bandrés Moya and Professor Emanuele Valenti of the Complutense University of Madrid, with partners Dr. Eleni Kalokairinou of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, Professor Manon Parry of the Free University, Amsterdam and Amsterdam University, the Netherlands, Professor Maria Caporale of the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, Professor Viorel Scripcariu of the Grigore T. Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Romania, and the EuroEd Foundation.

A Voyage to Health (2010)

(Co-curated with Davianna Pōmaika‘i McGregor, PhD, Hardy Spoehr, and Maile Taualii, PhD, MPH. The ancient arts of navigation and voyaging that brought the people of Hawai‘i to their island homes are being revived. As part of a wider movement to reintroduce traditional ways, Native Hawaiians are mastering the knowledge and skills of their elders. By restoring their heritage, this new generation of voyagers seeks to heal the people.

This exhibition was launched at the National Library of Medicine in 2010 and has since toured the USA and Argentina. Visit the exhibition website to view the digital version and access educational resources for high school and university students.


The Literature of Prescription (2009)

In the late 19th century, at a time when women were challenging traditional ideas about gender that excluded them from political and intellectual life, medical and scientific experts drew on notions of female weakness to justify inequality between the sexes. Artist and writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who was discouraged from pursuing a career to preserve her health, rejected these ideas in a terrifying short story titled “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” The famous tale served as an indictment of the medical profession and the social conventions restricting women’s professional and creative opportunities.

The exhibition was launched at the National Library of Medicine in 2009 and then traveled the USA. Visit the exhibition website to explore the online version and access educational resources for high school and university students.

Pick Your Poison (2012)

Mind-altering drugs have been used throughout the history of America. While some remain socially acceptable, others are outlawed because of their toxic, and intoxicating, characteristics. These classifications have shifted at different times in history, and will continue to change.

The transformation of a particular drug, from an acceptable indulgence to a bad habit, or vice versa, is closely tied to the intentions of those endorsing its use, and their status in society. This exhibition explores some of the factors that have shaped the changing definition of some of our most potent drugs, from medical miracle to social menace.

The exhibition was launched at the National Library of Medicine in 2012 and then traveled the USA. Visit the exhibition website to view the online version as well as educational resources for high school and university students.

Life and Limb (2011)

The perspectives of surgeons, physicians, and nurses are richly documented in the history of American Civil War medicine, which highlights the heroism and brutality of battlefield operations and the challenges of caring for the wounded during wartime. Yet the experiences of injured soldiers during the conflict and in the years afterwards are less well-known. Life and Limb: The Toll of the American Civil War focuses on disabled veterans and their role as symbols of the fractured nation.

The exhibition was displayed at the National Library of Medicine from 2010-2011 and then traveled the USA (through 2019). Visit the exhibition website to view the online version and to access educational resources for high school and university-level students.

DisPLACE (from 2017)

DisPLACE (Disability in Public Life and Cultural Expression) is a digital platform for the collection and interpretation of experiences of disability, past and present, by people with disabilities in collaboration with other students, researchers, disability service organizations, and the creative industries. The platform includes:

1) a digital archive, to share historically-significant documents, images, and multimedia

2) an interpretive space, to engage with these sources to answer research questions about disability history, resulting in online exhibitions, digital documentaries, and scholarly essays, and

3) a network zone, facilitating the exchange of information and advice on potential new research questions the hub can be used to answer. This will be the first archive in the Netherlands to gather and analyse a wide range of historical sources on disabilities together, the first shared virtual environment to utilize the cultural heritage of disability and the first to make these accessible online to people with a wide variety of disabilities.

The protoype is funded by an NWO Creative Industry – KIEM Grant of €18,000 for the research project ‘Digital Disability Archive’ (1 September 2017 – 31 August 2018), awarded to Manon Parry and collaborating applicants Paul van Trigt (LUIH), Paul Bijl (KITLV), Disability Studies in Nederland, and multimedia partner Driebit.

The project is part of a larger initiative by the BIB Network (Bronnen voor inclusieve burgerschap), working to stimulate the collection and interpretation of disability history.

Listening to the Mind (2015)

Birdsall, C., Parry, M., & Tkaczyk, V. (2015). “Listening to the Mind: Tracing the Auditory History of Mental Illness in Archives and Exhibitions,” The Public Historian, 37(4), 47-72. DOI: 10.1525/tph.2015.37.4.47

With increasing interest in the representation of histories of mental health in museums, sound has played a key role as a tool to access a range of voices. This project investigates how sound can be used to give voice to those previously silenced. The focus is on the use of sound recording in the history of mental health care, and the archival sources left behind for potential reuse. Exhibition strategies explored include the use of sound to interrogate established narratives, to interrupt associations visitors make when viewing the material culture of mental health, and to foster empathic listening among audiences. Listening to the Mind: Tracing the Auditory History of Mental Illness in Archives and Exhibitions was published in the Public Historian and presented at the LARM conference on Digital Archives, Audiovisual Media and Cultural Memory, Copenhagen in 2013, the International Federation for Public History Inaugural Meeting in Amsterdam, 2014, and the Wellcome Collection in 2015.

Changing the Face of Medicine (2004-2006)


Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America’s Women Physicians (co-curated with Ellen S. More, Ph.D.) is a 4000 sq. ft gallery exhibition displayed at the National Library of Medicine, plus national touring version and website, budget $3 million. The exhibition spanned 150 years of history and included profiles of more than 300 women.

These biographies can be navigated though the themes of the exhibition storyline, or organized as search results for the categories of location, ethnicity, career options, or medical schools.

The exhibition website includes visitors’ own stories of inspiring women physicians, short films and interviews, and educational resources for high school and university-level classes.

Against the Odds (2008-2010)

Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Heath (Curator), a 4000 sq. ft exhibition on global health and human rights, was developed to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation.

The exhibition was displayed at the National Library of Medicine from 2008-2010.

The project budget of $800,000 includes a traveling version which has toured to more than 60 venues across the United States.

The exhibition website includes educational resources for high school and university-level classes.