From Black Bag to High Science

Mothers, Midwives, and Medicine Shows: Health Pluralism a Century Ago panel (2010)

Mothers, Midwives, and Medicine Shows: Health Pluralism a Century Ago panel (2010)

Researched and curated by Dr. Thomas Acheson, and Dr. Sasha Mullally with the assistance of Dusty and Nancy, this exhibit explores New Brunswick’s medical history from around 1950, to recent history.  The Fredericton Region Museumhas two major medical collections that we are using in the exhibit.  The first is the Chalmers collection that includes a very old black bag and several medical instruments and interesting pieces of equipment.  The second is the Likely collection that was donated to the Museum in 2008.  Dr. Likely was a Fredericton area ears, nose, throat and eye specialist.  This collection contains a lot of unique artefacts not found in the Chalmers collection because of the different medical fields of the doctors.  Some of the themes include: the transition from ‘black bag’ medical science to ‘high science’, and the shift to institutional medicine and tonsillectomy fairs.

In preparation for the exhibit, we had to renovate a gallery!  What was formerly a print storage room is now the home of our new Medical Exhibit.  We have transferred the archival material to the New Brunswick Provincial Archives for permanent storage and inclusion into our MC300 series.  It was a long and labour intensive project.  It took the Museum staff, volunteers and Archive staff over a year to move the artefacts to the Archives and then the room had to undergo a complete renovation and restoration.  The renovation was completed in late 2010.

The exhibit was launched in August of 2011 and quickly became a patron favourite.  Many recognize the names and people in the pictures and some shudder when they look at the artefacts (such as the chest pump).

The exhibit was funded by provincial government Heritage Branch through the exhibit program and built heritage program.  The Fredericton Region Museum would like to thank The Province of New Brunswick Heritage Branch for their generous contribution as well as Dr. Acheson for his contribution of knowledge, management skills and his ongoing support of our organization. Thank you to Dr. Mullally for her contribution and expertise, to our contract/summer students (Katriana, Dusty, Nancy, Nicole, Geoff, Ian and Kate) as well as our volunteers (Simon, Wendy, Dr. Lee Stickles, Dr. Muriel Smith, Jean, Vaughan and Gillian) who each contributed their expertise, time and energy on the exhibit. Thank you to Charlotte for the panel designs.

The exhibit opening speeches were uploaded to YouTube in two parts.

Video links:
Fredericton Museum (York Sunbury)- Medical Exhibit Opening Speeches
Fredericton Museum (York Sunbury)- Medical Exhibit Opening Speeches (Part 2)

A BIG thank you to those who have donated to our exhibit!

Valerie Noel
Dr. T. A. Barnhill
Dr. B. Sainz
Dr. Vincent Paul Escanlar
Dr. A. Gregory Haley
Dr. Barbara Gill

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