A new book traces these illustrations, both squeamish and divine, through the ages
The National Library of Medicine, founded 175 years ago, is the world’s largest medical library―home to a rich heritage of objects from rare medical books to disturbing 19th-century surgical illustrations to delightful mid-20th-century animated cartoons. It contains more than 17 million items dating from the 11th century to the present.
“Hidden Treasure,” edited by Michael Sappol, designed by Laura Lindgren and photographed by Arne Svenson, is a distilled selection of incredible items largely unseen by the public and obscure even to librarians, curators and historians. Some are quite hard to view if you’re squeamish.
“The individual objects―rare, extravagant, idiosyncratic, and sometimes surprising―brought to light in this book glow with beauty, grotesquery, wit and/or calamitous tragedy. Among the objects featured are a series never before reproduced of hauntingly delicate paintings and illustrations of ‘monstra’ collected in the early decades of the nineteenth century “from the museum of Dr. Klinkenberg” in the Netherlands; charming hand-painted glass ‘magic lantern slides,’ which doctors projected in slideshows to entertain and help cure inmates at St. Elizabeths Hospital for the Insane; the mimeographed report of the Japanese medical team first to enter Hiroshima after the atomic blast; surreal views of mechanically sliced cadavers in the photographic anatomical atlas of fin-de-siècle France’s notorious surgeon-provocateur Eugène-Louis Doyen; and a staggering variety of objects from around the world and through seven different centuries.”
Each artifact included in the book is explained through a brief essay by a scholar, artist, collector, journalist or physician (including me, though I only play a physician on TV).
“Delivered from the obscurity of the library’s massive archive, these marvels speak to us, charm us, repulse us, amaze us, inform us, and intrigue us―and present a tantalizing glimpse of some of the precious and remarkable objects to be found within one of the world’s great hidden treasures.”
ESSAYISTS IN THE BOOK ARE: Eva Åhrén, Bridie Andrews, Alexander Bay, Zoe Beloff, Timothy Billings, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom, Ron Broglio, Mikita Brottman, Liping Bu, David Cantor, Mary Cappello, Andrea Carlino, Nathaniel Comfort, Harold J. Cook, Pia F. Cuneo, Olaf Czaja, Luke Demaitre, Mark Dery, Shauna Devine, Elizabeth Fee, Mechthild Fend, Paula Findlen, Mary E. Fissell, Sander L. Gilman, Elisabeth Gitter, Tal Golan, Charles Hallisey, Marta Hanson, Mark Harrison, William H. Helfand, Steven Heller, Kathy High, Mami Hirose, Ludmilla Jordanova, Lauren Kassell, Mark Kessell, Nikolai Krementsov, Shigehisa Kuriyama, Hannah Landecker, Susan E. Lederer, Barron H. Lerner, Melissa Lo, Mark S. Micale, Maren Möhring, Sheena M. Morrison, Allison Muri, Sport Murphy, Marcia D. Nichols, Marianne Noble, Lisa O’Sullivan, Alyssa Picard, Rosamond Purcell, Anne Marie Rafferty, Sita Reddy, Elizabeth Reis, Benjamin Reiss, R. Roger Remington, Jeffrey S. Reznick, Michael Rhode, Stephen P. Rice, Harriet Ritvo, Charles Rosenberg, Michael Sappol, Emilie Savage-Smith, Jonathan Sawday, Walton O. Schalick, Antony Shugaar, Jonathan Smith, Jennifer Spinks, Claudia Stein, James Taylor, Paul Theerman, Charles W. J. Withers, Hiroo Yamagata.
Copyright F+W Media Inc. 2011.
Salon is proud to feature content from Imprint, the fastest-growing design community on the web. Brought to you by Print magazine, America’s oldest and most trusted design voice, Imprint features some of the biggest names in the industry covering visual culture from every angle. Imprint advances and expands the design conversation, providing fresh daily content to the community (and now to salon.com!), sparking conversation, competition, criticism, and passion among its members.
More Related Stories
- The best of Tumblr porn
- From global warming to fluoride: Why do people deny science?
- What does it really feel like to fall out of a building?
- How Dan Savage lost it
- Will U.S. amphibians become endangered species?
- I don't hate millennials anymore!
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- The secrets of cicada survival
- Nobody "needs" to rape
- Catholic Church in market for more exorcists
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Boy Scouts to members: Just don't be a gay adult
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- My text blew up in my face
- Boy Scouts end ban on openly gay boys
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11