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Art & Science, History & Medicine

Produced by Michael O'Reilly

November 2011

This segment, Art & Science, History & Medicine, explores the intersection of the aforementioned disciplines by using the comingled and highly-varied collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Mütter Museum as a jumping off point. Not only do we see the Thomas Eakins masterpiece THE GROSS CLINIC, but we also see the scalpel of Dr Samuel Gross, the titular subject of the painting, in a small side-case positioned near the painting. Dr. Robert Hicks and Anna Marley provide fascinating commentary on how art can provide medical insights like no other discipline, and how everything came together, once upon a time, in Philadelphia.

Extended interview with Robert Hicks | Edited by Emily Hauze
Robert Hicks, Director of the Mütter Museum, offers insights into the life and work of Dr. William Keene, whose portrait hangs in the "Anatomy Academy" exhibit. Dr. Hicks brings along an unusual item that was once in Keene's possession — a walking stick topped with an ivory figure that unites the themes of art, medicine, and a certain strain of criminality that once accompanied the study of anatomy.

William Rush Anatomical Sculptures | Edited by Meeri Kim
Anna Marley, curator of historical American art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, describes the collaboration between the Academy and the University of Pennsylvania's medical school to create large-scale anatomical models for teaching medical students. The models were sculpted by Academy co-founder William Rush for Dr. Caspar Wistar, the chair of the Department of Anatomy at Penn's School of Medicine.

Harriet, Anatomical Sculpture | Edited by Meeri Kim
What appears to be a piece of abstract modern art is actually an intact nervous system prepared by Dr. Rufus Weaver. Harriet was a cleaning lady in the late 19th century for Dr. Weaver, and subsequently donated her body to science.  Her nerves have been painted over with lead for preservation and tacked out to fully display the intricacies of the human nervous system.

The Art of Lucy Lyons | Edited by Noam Osband
The drawings in this video are part of PhD research investigating how drawing can reveal the breadth of unique experiences of the rare connective tissue disease, Fibrodysplasia  Ossificans Progressiva (FOP). The drawings were executed by Lucy Lyons, a London based artist and academic. For her, the act of drawing is initiated by the act of looking and simultaneously evidences the journey of experience taken. Close observation is a powerful and sometimes under-appreciated process of gaining insight and knowledge.  Her research examines how drawing as an activity leads to greater understanding of phenomena we experience.  She has spent over ten years  working with medical museum collections at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Copenhagen's Medical Museion examining how drawing can communicate experiences of aging.