Body of Work


Over the weekend I was lucky enough to gain back stage access to the National Museum of Heath and Medicine (AKA “U.S. Army Medical Museum” back in the day). This was a recon trip to collect visual and contact information for a project that I have been thinking about. The size of the collection is perfect for what I have had in mind and the staff was very open to follow-on visits and the prospect of a project. I am look forward to future visits!

The image above is one that I made during the visit as part of a visual notebook. It was made with a Nikon D200 with a hand held SB200 flash.

I am still processing my thoughts generated by spending a few hours in two rooms full of items that were once part of people, some of who had an impact on the countries history. Metal drawers of skulls, bones, jaws, and other bony bits and pieces. Specimens battlefield traumas from the Civil War can be found in great numbers as well an more modern examples of illness.

A room called the “Wet Room” is were one finds preserved soft tissue specimens in jars and tanks of all sizes. This room is a place the held my attention greatly as one is in some cases able to look upon the face of someone of the past. It is one thing to look at a skull, femur, or a preserved hand of someone, but looking upon an actual face really humanizes the collection of specimens. Examples of animals, organs, birth defects, and an untold number of other items are organized on high selves from floor ceiling. The Wet Room is a chamber of wonders as well as nightmares once collected to benefit future generations.

I am very thankful to have been given the chance to visit the private area of this museum, and I look forward to future visits.


~ by Phil Nesmith on December 3, 2007.

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