Biomedicine in museums

Minders of the memory — with delayed gratification

A few weeks ago, Oregon Health & Science University Historical Collections & Archives‘s Sara Piasecki kindly called Biomedicine on Display her “current favorite blog”. Thanks! (Though “current” sounds a bit ambiguous; do we risk being thrown into oblivion soon?)

Maybe our potential precarious status has to do with the fact that Sara felt it necessary to take issue with a post about biomedical memory in which I wrote, among other things, that there aren’t many archival and museum institutions around the world that collect contemporary biomedical material and that it costs a substantial amount of money to travel to get access to their holdings. “And here I really must protest”, writes Sara:

it’s not always that hard! We do a huge amount of “e-reference” (meaning you email us and we email you back and information gets exchanged) and a lot of digitization-on-demand (meaning you can see the stuff, or a digital reproduction of it at least, right on your own computer!!). Sure, it might take us a while, but a little bit of delayed gratification never hurt anyone (I think: we may have an old case report on that in the archives…) Here at OHSU, we are keenly aware of the need to collect materials from all corners of the health sciences, to collect as broadly as possible (within the scope of our mission, of course), and to represent all sides of a given issue.

That’s okay. My thoughts will go to OHSU’s archival collection next time I feel like devouring some some original lab protocols. But OHSU aside, few institutions put their stuff online. And in addition, delayed gratification has never been my trademark.

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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