Warren Anatomical Museum (WAM)
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with the wishes of Dr. John Collins Warren, by whom the founding collection was
given to the Harvard Medical School,
the Warren Anatomical Museum
undertakes to maintain these collections, to add to them when feasible, and to
make them available and useful for the study of medicine, anthropology, and the
history of science. The Museum seeks to continue in the tradition of promoting
the collection for the purposes of medical education in all forms whenever
possible, as well as expand its scope to provide public programming and
educational resources to the larger community.
Phineas Gage Featured on Italian Public Television Program “Superquark”
Skull of Phineas Gage, Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine [WAM 00949]
The skull, life cast, and tamping iron of Phineas Gage was featured on the Italian television program Superquark in its recent special on the brain. Superquark visited the Warren Anatomical Museum in October 2013.
Also featured in the program is Harvard Medical School Professor of Neurobiology Margaret Livingstone, who commented on the location and extent of Gage’s brain injury.
Video of the episode is located on the Superquark website. Gage’s skull and the interview with Dr. Livingstone begins at the 00:38:06 mark.
Warren Museum Conserves New Accessions for “Body of Knowledge” exhibit
Thomas Dwight, Jr. lecturing using Dwight-Emerton skull models, 1906, Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine
In November 2013 Harvard Medical School’s Program in Medical Education generously donated a series of large papier-mâché models designed by Harvard anatomist Thomas Dwight, Jr. and sculptor J. H. Emerton to the Warren Anatomical Museum. Between 1890 and 1895, Emerton made 20 models for Dwight, many of which have survived and are still used in Harvard’s anatomy classrooms. The donation included a 6.5-foot-tall model of a sagittal section of the human skull, a 5-foot-long model of the bones of the foot, various enlarged hand bones and vertebrae – all by Emerton. Also, included in the gift were two papier-mâché Auzoux models, an enlarged ear and a sagittal section of the face with removable layers.
The skull and bones of the foot models are being loaned for the approaching exhibition Body of Knowledge; A History of Anatomy (In Three Parts). The exhibit is a special collaboration of the Center for the History of Medicine, the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, Harvard University’s Department of the History of Science, the Harvard Medical School Program in Medical Education, and the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture. The exhibit will open at the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments on March 6, 2014 and run until December 5, 2014. Approximately 50 anatomical preparations, models, artifacts, books and images from Center for the History of Medicine collections will be displayed.
Object conservator Nina Vinogradskaya working on the Dwight-Emerton skull, Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine
After 100 years of active teaching, the skull and foot models acquired their fair share of chips, breaks, and abrasions. The Center and the Ackerman Program on Medicine and Culture funded the conservation and partial restoration of the skull and foot. Skilled object conservator Nina Vinogradskaya carefully cleaned the models, consolidated their deteriorating paint layers, repaired breaks in the papier-mâché and plaster, and even restored large sections of loss in the skull’s maxilla and teeth. The models and Nina’s work will be prominently displayed in Body of Knowledge and at the Warren Museum and Countway Library when they return to the Harvard Medical School campus in December 2014.
Harvard Medical School’s Stephanie Dutchen authored an article on the acquisition of the Dwight-Emerton models and their move across the Medical School campus in the school’s news feed.
New artifacts donated to Warren Museum
Pocket field surgery kit, used in the American Civil War and found on a battlefield in 1862. Warren Anatomical Museum [WAM 21049], Francis A Countway Library of Medicine
The Warren Museum recently acquired two new artifacts.
R. Bryan and Drew Trainor donated a pocket surgery kit to the Museum that had been passed down through their family. The kit was found on an American Civil War battlefield in 1862 by Julius Reed of 1st Regiment of the Heavy Artillery of Connecticut. Reed gave the kit to the donor’s great-great-grandfather.
The surviving instruments in the kit are mostly made by George Tiemann & Co. and were designed for minor surgery. They include an artery forceps, a tortoise-shell folding probe, a tortoise-shell folding curved bistoury and tenotome, a tortoise-shell folding gum lancet and tenaculum, a tortoise-shell folding curved bistoury and scalpel and a suture needle. The kit also contained a bullet from a Vanderberg Volley Gun.
Harvard Medical School Associate Professor of Medicine Peter Tishler donated a box of Eli Lilly Liver Extract #343, circa 1929, to the Museum’s collection, marking an important moment in the history of hematology as well as the history of university and industry partnerships. In 1926 Harvard physicians George Minot and William Murphy announced that feeding liver to pernicious anemia patients helped restore their health. By 1928 Minot and Murphy had collaborated with Eli Lilly to create and market Liver Extract#343 to treat the disease. Minot and Murphy, along with University of Rochester’s George Whipple, won the 1934 Noble Prize for their pernicious anemia research.
Eli Lilly box containing Liver Extract #343, dated 1929. Warren Anatomical Museum [WAM 21053], Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine
Patients were instructed to take “3 to 6 vials” of Liver Extract #343 a day, depending on the recommendations of their physicians. Each box contained 24 vials of the compound. The donated box most likely came from a former pernicious anemia patient. Of the 16 surviving vials, 15 have been emptied of their contents.
The Warren Museum is grateful to our generous donors whose gifts will benefit of future physicians, historians of science, and the curious public.
HarvardX course “Fundamentals of Neuroscience” teaches using Warren Museum collections
Engraving of Phineas Gage skull and tamping iron, Bigelow, Henry J. “Dr. Harlow’s case of recovery from the passage of an iron bar through the head.” American Journal of the Medical Sciences, n.s. v.20 (July 1850): 13-22.
The HarvardX/edX course “Fundamentals of Neuroscience. Part I” (mcb80x), which teaches with select Warren Museum collections, is now open for registration. The course, taught by Harvard University Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology David Cox, starts in October 2013. Students can register on the edX website.
The upcoming installment is the first segment of a three-part course that “explores the structure and function of the nervous system.” According to the course’s manifesto, MCB80x’s goal “is to reboot the MOOC [Massive Open Online Courses] and leverage the advantages of the internet.”
In addition to using the Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery as a backdrop for one lecture, Professor Cox filmed several Warren Museum collections important to the history of neuroscience for MCB80x, specifically the skull, life cast and tamping iron of Phineas Gage and the phrenology cast collection of the Boston Phrenological Society. In both segments Warren Museum curator Dominic Hall added commentary on the objects and their origins.
An image of the skull of Phineas Gage is featured on the course’s website, Facebook page, and Instagram account.
Center Artifacts Highlighted in Winter 2013 Harvard Medicine Magazine
Medal celebrating the birth of Princess Frederike of Prussia, 1770, Storer Collection, Boston Medical Library in the Countway Library of Medicine
This most recent “Backstory” is the fourth to focus on Center for the History of Medicine collections. Past articles include: