Exhibits and lectures

Current and upcoming events



Vaccination: Fame, Fear and Controversy, 1798-1998


Vaccination: Fame, Fear and Controversy, 1798-1998Since its earliest days, vaccination has been attended by hesitation, resistance and controversy. Why did an innovation that promised to rid the world of the terrible scourge of smallpox inspire such enduring fear? When Jenner spearheaded the promotion of vaccination at the turn of the nineteenth century, he predicted the end of a disease that had taken 60 million lives in the eighteenth century alone. He was right, but it took until 1980 before the World Health Organization could proclaim “smallpox zero”. This exhibition explores the tension between the promised public-health benefits of vaccination and the reasons why resistance checked its acceptance. It seeks to understand the origins of vaccine hesitancy through various cases, both local and global, and demonstrates the legacy of those cases in contemporary vaccination debates.

The exhibition is presented in partnership with the McGill University Faculty of Medicine and the Freie Universität, Berlin.




Recent events


  • A History of Neuro-Oncology: Candaian Savoir Faire, a talk by Dr. Rolando Del Maestro, MD, PhD, William Feindel Emeritus Professor in Neuro-Oncology, Director of McGill Neurosurgical Simulation Research and Training Centre. This talk encouraged discussion surrounding ideas and individuals that have shaped the world of neuro-oncology, while placing emphasis on Canadian neuro-oncology research. Attendees were encouraged to prepare a ‘Canadian Neuro-Oncology Minute’ that highlighted an individual’s contributions to historical and/or current advancements in Canada and received an autographed copy of Dr. Rolando Del Maestro’s book A History of Neuro-Oncology (2008).

  • Rural Medicine in 20th Century Quebec: Stories and Devices, curated by Dr. Richard Fraser, Laura Sang, Joan O’Malley, Marc Provost, Jerry Xie, Meriem Bounnab and Lucy Luo. October 2016-January 2017.

  • Knowing Blood: Medical Observations, Fluid Meanings, curated by Darren N. Wagner and Nick Whitfield. January-September 2016.

  • Sanitizing Style: Germ Theory and Fashion at the Turn of the Century, curated by Cynthia Tang and Anna Dysert. September-December 2015.

  • On the Surface/Skin Deep, curated by Sylvie Boisjoli and and Shana Cooperstein. Read exhibition talks from the curators in the spring 2015 issue of the Osler Library Newsletter (no. 122). Follow link to an interview with the curators on our blog.

  • The Literature of Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Yellow Wallpaper.  A Biography of Neurasthenia in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Curated by Prof. Andrea Tone. September-April 2014.


Other events and exhibits

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