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Health sciences library offers diverse exhibits on the MCV Campus

July 15, 2020

Acutely aware of the power of visual images to educate, to heal and to inspire, librarians at Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences regularly organize and host exhibits of historical and archival material and art related to the health sciences or created by people in health sciences fields. Exhibits cover a wide variety of subject matter, from social justice to the comics arts, and reveal how the health sciences are connected intimately with all things.

Major Exhibits in 2019–20

Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived and Well-Drawn!
Aug. 19–Sept. 28, 2019

This traveling exhibit highlighted the crossover of two of VCU Libraries’ chief areas of support and collection: the health sciences and the comic arts. Comics are an important medium for a number of artists to tell their personal or familial illness narratives, and the exhibit showcased items from the National Library of Medicine’s growing collection of graphic memoirs depicting peoples experiences with health issues, including breast cancer, deafness, mental illness and HIV/AIDS. The VCU Medical Center Health and Wellness Library hosted VCU Arts assistant professor Sarah Farris for a workshop on the subject of health-related graphic memoirs, and at another event, librarian Talicia Tarver presented about graphic medicine resources in the VCU Libraries collection.

Photograph of exhibit featuring information panels and artifacts related to Dr. Markham, including his person desk

Doctor Markham’s Study
Sept. 2019

This exhibit explored the life of mid-19th-century rural physicians, spotlighting Dr. Thomas O. Markham, graduate of the Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College. Featured in the exhibit were Dr. Markham’s 1847 Latin-language diploma and his home study desk. The desk played an important role for the traveling country practitioner in rural Virginia, as it provided a place to keep patient records and to review Virginia’s newly emerging medical journals. Items in the exhibit were drawn from the Medical Artifacts Collection in Special Collections and Archives at Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences.

Life Beyond the Library
Oct. 1, 2019–Jan. 31, 2020

In addition to providing the VCU community with access to information, spaces and resources, the library personnel at Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences enjoy photography. For this exhibit, employees were invited to submit their most interesting, inspiring and entertaining photographs from their recent travels. 25 of those images were selected for display. Images included everything from tropical vistas to artistic close-ups of contemporary art pieces and offered the viewer a glimpse into the interests and unique perspectives of some of the people who make VCU Libraries possible.

Leni Sorensen talks at an event tied to a medial library exhibit

Fire and Freedom: Food and Enslavement in Early America
Jan. 6–Feb. 15, 2020

This traveling exhibit curated by the National Library of Medicine explored the important role enslaved people played in keeping American colonial settlers nourished. The exhibit narrated the shift from mass starvation and malnutrition at the beginning of settlement to the sophisticated, complex food industry that came to be during the rise of economic prosperity. At the heart of this change was the work of enslaved people. Supporting the exhibit was a talk by Leni Sorensen, Ph.D., food historian, who walked attendees through meal preparation in several of the elite homes of 18th-century Virginia.

An artistically modified sheet as part of the exhibit Pliuri

Jan. 17–April 30, 2020

From the Romanian word for “folds,” Pliuri featured artistically altered fabrics and other objects that could be folded up and put into a suitcase. The exhibit was inspired by artist Diana Antohe’s memories of her grandparents, who lived in Romania and carried with them on their journeys between their country and America only the kinds of things, such as textiles and letters, that could fit in their luggage. Antohe, in addition to honoring her grandparents, was exploring her dual heritage and the kinds of physical limitations that can shape a person’s understanding of other cultures.

Images: Doctor Markham’s Study, VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives; Leni Sorensen, photo courtesy of VCU University Relations; Pentru Nadia, by Diana Antohe

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