One Of My Favorite Places

I’d like to mention a fun gift for any doctors, history nerds, or the plain morbidly curious people on your gift list. A membership to the Dittrick Museum


At the Friend level you get this sweet book. Even my husband was like ‘woa this book is nice!’ and he’s not even into that kind of thing. But seriously, if you are a fan of even places like Trundle Manor, Loved to Death, Morbid Anatomy, the Natural History Museum, or anything of that sort — I think you will dig it.

As many people know, I have a great affinity for this museum and their lecture series. I began going after my whole cancer to-so and was doing research for my Ephemeral Antidotes series (the second part opens in April 2014) and it grew from there. There’s still a lot to see in the archives and in the book collection; I’ll get around to one of these days. I had no idea this museum even existed, let alone that it was right there in University Circle across from Severance Hall!

Recently, I was asked to be part of a small community outreach committee for the museum, which I’m honored and very excited about! Let’s just say we’ve got some really fun and interesting events and ideas coming to fruition. As I have preached to many people, it’s a fabulous night out for the lectures, but taking a day to go throughout the collections is a history buff’s paradise.

Forceps, Stethoscopes, and Ivory Babies

What are some of the things I do on weekdays? Well, go to the Dittrick Medical History Center, of course. I’m gearing up for my next solo show, and although I know what I’m going to do as far as the medical history inspiration, one can never have done enough research. For the show my area of focus will be the 1400s to maybe the late 1600s, I find it all so fascinating, and it makes me feel better about the annoying scans and procedures I continue to go through at Cleveland Clinic.

I might have  missed her talk (which is available here) but I got a nice little private tour of the new exhibit having to do with birth from Dr. Brandy Schillace. Did you know that midwives will lose their license if they even touch a pair of forceps? Today? Because I sure didn’t.


Paper woman…


Ivory anatomy ladies and their tiny babies. Such beauties…




A week later I attended the opening of the mezzanine exhibit, the M. Donald Blaufox Hall of Diagnostic Instruments, which was donated by Dr. Blaufox after years of extensive collecting.  The opening was paired with a lecture by Joel D. Howell, M.D. which primarily focused on stethoscopes, and how one tool changed the practice of medicine.



(go to the actual exhibit if you can, I took these rather quickly)



You can listen the entire lecture recording here. It’s very interesting to hear from doctors, nurses, and med students about how talking to a patient has been trumped in many ways by just reading test results. As for the question of what things we are doing now that people in the future will look back on and say is silly? I think chemotherapy will be the top practice that future generations will go, “what there they thinking?! That’s terrible!”

By the way, go and visit the Dittrick Blog!

Short Trip to the Museum of Medical History

My friend Dott and I went to the Museum of Medical History on the Case Western Reserve campus. It has hours that are weird, and the rare books section was by appointment (bah) but we are both very fast when it comes to museums so an hour was all we needed. We do plan on going to this talk, however. Just in time for Halloween!

The building and libraries remind me of places around the Harvard University campus.The museum it self is very small, but the research and archives look to be quite vast. The main exhibit was on contraception and all things related to baby-making. The other exhibits looked like they were in flux, half finished or being moved, but we still saw some cool things and learned interesting facts. Did you know that to drink tea made from a Beaver’s gall bladder (among other parts) was supposed to be a baby blocker? Yep, it’s true.

Here are some photos…

I thought we should start bringing newspapers and brandy, and transform it into our own little club like the men’s clubs of London and New York in the “olden days”….except surrounded by microscopes. We also saw a slide show of old watercolor illustrations from France telling you exactly what will happen if you young men beat your meat too much! Coughing up blood, losing use of your legs, and rotting teeth are just a few of the symptoms, FYI. Also, syphilis is bad…

I need to go back again, the library alone is worth it. Totally geeked out there’s a picture of Babe Paley’s dad, Dr. Cushing, hanging up there, too.