The Osler Library of the History of Medicine is pleased to present Knowing Blood: Medical Observations, Fluid Meanings. The exhibition is generously funded by the McGill University Faculty of Medicine and will run from January to August 2016.
Knowing Blood, Medical Observations, Fluid Meanings is about observations, meanings, and understandings of blood from the late 15th to the mid-20th century. Blood has long been a powerful and evocative symbol, signifying themes from life, identity, community and kinship to sex, lineage, violence and death. Practices of observing blood in experiment, diagnosis, and therapy have also varied widely: a melange of cells seen under a microscope, a pulse felt by a trained touch, the taste of blood from a barber-surgeon’s bowl, a map comparing hematological and racial groups. Modern Western medicine has known not one but many kinds of blood.
Knowing Blood queries how various practices of observation have encountered the multifarious meanings of blood and negotiated new medical knowledge. The objects, texts, and images displayed here are drawn from the collections of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, the Schulich Library of Science and Engineering, the Maude Abbot Medical Museum, and le Musée des Hospitalières de l'Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal. Five thematic cases highlight different historical approaches to observation, their relation to changing systems of medical practice and to blood’s broader meanings. We invite you to explore this rich 400-year history of knowing and observing the most vital of bodily fluids.
The exhibition was curated by Darren N. Wagner and Nick Whitfield.