172102 A Role for Exhibitions: “Making a Difference in Global Heath”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 8:35 AM

Manon Parry, MA, MSc , Curator, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD
In April 2008, the National Library of Medicine will launch a major exhibition on global health. The project celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of the World Health Organization and is designed to broaden visitors' understanding of the social determinants of health. The exhibition highlights historical examples of successful responses to a diverse range of problems such as warfare and landmines, the lack of nutritious food and clean water, and barriers to affordable health care. Case studies highlighted include Chinese barefoot doctors in the 1970s, community health centers in South Africa in the 1950s, and AIDS activism in the United States in the 1980s. A primary goal is to teach young people to think critically about global health stories in the news, and encourage them to get involved in health issues in their own community and around the world. Common assumptions held by audiences in the United States and challenged in the exhibition include the notion that infectious diseases are the biggest threat to health, that global health means other, poorer countries, that “developing” countries lack medical expertise, and that governments, not communities, should take the lead in solving health problems. In this paper the exhibition curator will describe how the project was developed, from research on the views of the target audiences to the approach to storytelling used. The presentation will be illustrated with images of materials displayed in the exhibition and photographs of the galleries, and will end with a review of the responses to the project since its launch.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify aspects of public health that could be successfully presented in a museum exhibition. 2. Define a target audience and evaluate their interests and assumptions. 3. Devise effective strategies for engaging museum visitors in the history of public health.

Keywords: International Health, History

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I led the research on the exhibition, wrote the exhibition script and selected photos and artifacts for use in the exhibition.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.