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Biomedicine in museums

15th congress of European Association of Museums for the History of Medical Sciences in Copenhagen, September 2010

Make a note in your 2010 calendar already — for the 15th Congress of the European Association of Museums of the History of Medical Sciences (EAMHMS), which will be held here at Medical Museion in Copenhagen, 17-19 September 2010.

The congress theme revolves around the question: How can medical history museums contribute to the popular engagement in contemporary medicine and health science?

Medicine is in rapid transition. The last fifty years have witnessed tremendous changes in medical science and the health system. Molecular biology has introduced entirely new methods for diagnostics and specific therapeutical regimes, and has boosted a flourishing biotech industry. The digital revolution has given rise to whole new areas of medical technology and medical device industries. The elucidation of the human genome has opened up the possibility for personalized medicine and promises to change the authority relations between the medical professions and the public.

This late 20th century transition in medicine and the health sciences is a major challenge for medical history museums – with respect to their research programs, their acquisition policies, their collection management procedures, their exhibition design practices and their public outreach strategies. Contemporary medicine thus raises important historiographical and museological questions which medical history museums need to address:

  • What kind of research programs will help establish new collection and exhibition practices?
  • What kind of acquisition policies are needed to cope with the rapid developent of contemporary medical science and technology, especially the proliferation of molecular and digital artefacts?
  • How can collection management procedures adopt to the many new kinds of artefacts that produced in the medical system, including molecular and digital artefacts?
  • How can exhibitions contribute to the popular engagement with the rapidly changing medical and health system?
  • How shall public outreach handle emerging web 2.0 communication technologies for the benefit of museums? 

These and similar questions are increasingly asked by museum curators in science, technology and medical museums, historians of science, technology and medicine, scholars in science studies and science communication studies, medical and health professionals with an interest in medical history and medical history museums, and so forth. The congress will therefore also be open to presentations by scholars working in these and similar fields.

Congress participants will get an opportunity to visit museums of interest in the greater Copenhagen area, Denmark, and southern Sweden before and after the meeting.

A first call for papers, sessions, panels and other presentation channels will be distributed by the end of the summer 2009. For further information, please contact me on this address:

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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