Saturday, February 12, 2011

YUK! Or, Cleveland's Museum of Medical History

Vividly reminding me to be thankful every day for anesthesia and antibiotics, Cleveland's Museum of Medicine at University Circle had me queasy after only three or four paces into the permanent exhibition: a big china container marked "LEECHES."

I was reminded also of a visit many years ago to a graveyard in Edinburgh, Scotland, with my friend, Michael Spanola. We went to see the grave of Adam Smith, father of Capitalism, and author of The Wealth of Nations. Nearby, we saw an inscription: "Thank God for James Young Simpson's discovery of chloroform anaesthesia." And we looked at each other and said: "Thank God, indeed."
I have no idea who Benjamin Rush is, nor why the Museum keeps him in a tiny glass box.

Nor do I know why they treat the Museum guard so badly... The Museum also had a current exhibition, A History of Contraception. Parents! Keep your kids on the path of righteousness, and away from sexual thoughts: a visit to the Late Medieval Methods of Contraception will probably put them off for life.
My favorite image of the Museum shows early modern ideas of germs, microbes, microscopic diseases. A Gullivar-like character panics while being assailed by an army of miniature monsters. Death is blowing something into the poor guy's ear with a set of bellows -- stoking his fever, perhaps. And at the front of the engraving, that well-known miniature monster, Napolean, leads a bunch of baddies along, an infectious grin on his face.

Later on in the early evening I went on an art walk... and saw some delightful Ukrainian eggs. 

And some egg-shaped sheep.

At Cleveland State University... hydroponically-grown lettuce, clearly in the lap of lettuce luxury.