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Biomedicine in museums

Congress for curious people

Events like the upcoming ‘Congress for Curious People’ — organised by Joanna Ebenstein (Morbid Anatomy) and some of her Observatory friends and colleagues — makes me think that New York, NY, is sometimes a more rewarding place to live than Copenhagen, DK (at least if you are interested in curiosities and collections). 

The Congress (which is held 9-18 April in conjunction with the Coney Island Museum) includes panels examining the collecting of curiosities, the history of ethnographic display and the interface of spectacle and education in 19th and 20th century amusements, and the politics of bodily display in the amusement parks, museums, and fairs of the Western world. It also features nightly lectures on topics as the taxidermy of a Victorian curiosity-collector, the history of automata featuring an actual automata demonstration, a meditation on ‘the saddest object in the world’, taxidermy in the fine arts etc. A ‘Collectors Cabinet’, showcasing astounding objects held in private collections, will be on view for the entire Congress. In conjunction with the events at the museum, Observatory will host ‘The Secret Museum’, an exhibition exploring “the poetics of hidden, untouched and curious collections from around the world”.

Much more on Joanna’s blog! And by the way, Joanna is hopefully attending the conference on ‘Contemporary biomedical science and medical technology as a challenge to museums’ organised here in Copenhagen, 16-18 September, so we will get a chance to discuss contemporary medical curiosities with her then.

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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