Seeing in Art and Medicine

, University Research Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

A bright red, rectangular ceramic relief with horizontal and vertical impressions on the surface.

Rosemarie Trockel, “Shutter (c),” 2006. Stoneware with red glaze. Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Purchase through the generosity of Wilhelm Winterstein, 2006.236. © Rosemarie Trockel / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

University Research Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

Try your hand at close-looking activities in this interactive exhibition, which examines objects from across the collections through the lens of the medical humanities and the human questions that doctors face in their daily work.

This exhibition and the medical humanities program on which it is based are part of the Harvard Art Museums’ broader commitment to interdisciplinary learning. Now in its sixth year, the Seeing in Art and Medical Imaging program welcomes a cohort of nuclear medicine and radiology residents from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital to explore questions about human relationships, emotions, beliefs, and opinions through art. The yearlong program is organized around seven themes: narrative, objectivity, embodiment, empathy, power, ambiguity, and care.

Radiologists specialize in looking at images; their job is to examine patients’ bodies using X-rays, CT scans, and other visual technologies. Whereas this work is conducted at a rapid pace and high volume, the museum environment offers medical residents the opportunity to slow down. Through close looking and object-based exercises, they are given the time and space to develop their interpersonal and communication skills, discuss the big issues and challenges of their profession, and make room for the emotions both they and their patients feel in the clinical setting.

This exhibition brings together objects from across the collections that residents have explored as part of the Seeing in Art and Medical Imaging program, including works by Vito Acconci, William Anastasi, Alexandra Bell, Trisha Brown, Jess T. Dugan, Mona Hatoum, Dorothea Lange, Annette Lemieux, Timm Rautert, Dario Robleto, Fazal Sheikh, Rosemarie Trockel, and others.

When you visit, we invite you to stay awhile and linger in this active learning space. Try your hand at some of the writing and drawing activities from the Seeing in Art and Medical Imaging program, which you will encounter throughout the exhibition.

Curated by Jen Thum, Associate Director of Academic Engagement and Campus Partnerships and Research Curator; and Laura Muir, Director of Academic and Public Programs, Division Head, and Louis Miller Thayer Research Curator; with assistance from Sarah Lieberman, Cunningham Fellow in Academic and Public Programs.

Support for the exhibition is provided by the José Soriano Fund, the Gurel Student Exhibition Fund, and the Annemarie Henle Pope Special Exhibitions Fund. Related programming is supported by the M. Victor Leventritt Lecture Series Endowment Fund and the Richard L. Menschel Endowment Fund.

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