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Biomedicine in museums

In our series of awesome MRI scanners …

By September 16, 2008No Comments

… check out these pics from the installation of the brand new 32 tons heavy 7 Tesla experimental whole-body MRI at the Charité Hospital in Berlin (via Medgadget). Note the caption to the third image: the only thing the blogpost-writer knows about the guy inside the magnet is that he didn’t wear his nipple rings that particular day 🙂

These super-machines support the ‘contemporary-medical-museum doctrine’, which I presented to a conference group on contemporary medical museums in the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden some years ago (and which some of my colleagues thought was baloney). On the one hand significant medical objects are becoming smaller and smaller (nanomedicine), on the other hand some instruments are becoming bigger and bigger (like these scanners). In contrast, human-sized medical artefacts are becoming less and less signifiant for what’s going on in the medical system.

This tendency — which is analogous to the situation in particle physics where bigger and bigger accelerators are needed to provide insights into progressively more tiny scientific objects — makes medical museum acquisitioning and collection management increasingly difficult. Today medical museum storage rooms are filled with human sized artefacts. But the storage rooms of the future will probably be more like a combination of those they have in museums of transportation (with really big objects like airplanes) and those they have in biobanks (liquid nitrogen freezers to keep molecular and cellular samples).

In other words the major future problem for medical museums is a peculiar combination of lack of space and lack of visibility.

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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