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.

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.

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.

AIDS Objects (from 2017)

Fighting, Caring, Grieving, Surviving – AIDS in the Netherlands

The AIDS pandemic has generated a vast amount of historical and cultural material and yet museums tend to collect only a very limited range of items for permanent preservation and for reuse in exhibitions. Historically significant objects and images have been lost or destroyed – in grief, to protect the privacy of the deceased, or because their value for museums and archives is not well understood. As a result, museum collections do not include a broad enough range of objects to document and exhibit the diverse and complex histories of AIDS. The AIDS Objects initiative is intended to stimulate the identification of artifacts for use in exhibitions and to raise awareness of the importance of preserving material still retained by individuals or health and advocacy organisations.

This digital scrapbook was inspired by a lost object – a scrapbook of staff and patient images, ephemera, and personal memories documenting the activities in the Netherlands’ first AIDS ward at the OLVG. The original artifact has not been found and is presumed destroyed. In this project, images from public archives and private collections and interwoven with a brief history of AIDS in the Netherlands, presented in a digital scrapbook to draw attention to the limited collection and preservation of the material culture of HIV and AIDS.

The project was developed in collaboration with Hugo Schalkwijk and funded by the Amsterdam Centre for Heritage and Identity. A pop-up exhibition based on the scrapbook research was on display in the Amsterdam Pavilion at the Global Village of the International AIDS Society conference, 23-27 July 2018.

In conjunction with the International AIDS Society conference in Amsterdam in July 2018, the AIDS Objects team based at the University of Amsterdam is undertaking a series of projects.