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Robert L. Brown History of Medicine

History of Medicine News

Chart the future by exploring the past

A Recap of our Wonderful, Recent Explore Buffalo Event

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Tour participants learn more about the contents of the Edgar McGuire Historical Instrument Collection on display in the Library's lobby.

Tour participants learn more about the contents of the Edgar McGuire Historical Instrument Collection on display in the Library’s lobby.

This past Thursday, March 20th at 7:00pm, we were thrilled to have collaborated with local tour group Explore Buffalo to provide a behind-the-scenes tour of Abbott Hall and the R.L. Brown History of Medicine Collection. In our rush to prepare for the event, we neglected to publicize it here on our blog, so as a sort of mea culpa, we wanted to take a moment to provide some post-event perspectives!

Overall the night was a big success, with about 20 community members participating in the event. To ensure everyone had adequate time to explore the building, collections, and to ask questions, we split the group into two. After a brief overview of the building and the Collection, including the Edgar McGuire Historical Instrument Collection, half of the group ventured up to the stately main reading room and the hidden gem that is the James Platt White room. In these rooms, our colleague Pam Rose gave a detailed history of the buildings architectural history, pointing out the Kittinger Company fireplace and the chandeliers which originally hung within the now-demolished Albright Mansion.

Detail of the fireplace in the Library’s Main Reading Room

In the James Platt White Room, tucked away in private area on the library’s third floor, I displayed several books that I hoped would be of interest to the group. Included among those resources highlighted were William Hunter’s Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus (1774), Barton Cooke Hirst’s three volume set of Human Monstrosities (1861), and of course our copy of Vesalius’s De Humani Corpus Fabrica (1570) and associated anatomical images. After briefly discussing the history of these books, participants were free to look through each and ask any questions they may have had regarding the building itself, or of the anatomical works on display.

As Pam and I were busy on the upper levels, Linda Lohr was providing the other half of the group with an overview of the Library’s history, highlighting our oldest book (a 1493 pharmacopeia from Benedictus de Nursia), Roswell Park’s death mask, and some of the more titillating components of the Edgar McGuire Historical Instrument Collection, including tooth keys, leech jars, and our compound magneto- electric machine.

After all of this, the good folks from Explore Buffalo served wine and craft beer, cheese, crackers, and delicious desserts. Participants were also free to explore the Collection at their leisure during this time. We’d like to send a big thanks to Brad Hahn and Explore Buffalo for promoting and arranging this fantastic event. We are already looking forward to future collaborations, and next time, we promise to announce it here on our blog!!

– Keith

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