Hitting the Road

Posted on July 20, 2017 by

Blog post by Collections Intern Joelle Paull. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Music, family or friends, scenic views are all part of the quintessential road trip experience. But every good road trip requires planning and packing. So what happens when JMM exhibits travel? This fall, the JMM’s recent exhibit, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America, will be traveling to the Maltz Museum in Cleveland. The exhibit, which examines the role of Jews in Medicine and its impact on Jewish culture and practices, features everything from surgical instrument and doctor’s coats to pharmaceutical tools and medicine bottles (many of which are still full of remedies and oils.)

The past week the collections department has been preparing the exhibit for travel. What does this entail? First we find the objects that have been put back on their shelves after the exhibit closed in January. Then, condition report, condition report condition report! Each object gets photographed and condition reported so that we can ensure everything comes back the way it left. Lastly, everything gets packed safely into boxes and then the objects in the exhibit are ready to hit the road. Over the course of the week, I have gotten pretty familiar with the objects in the exhibit, some proving harder to inventory and pack than others. Not having seen the exhibit, it has been fun to have the chance to read the catalogue and explore the objects. Here are some of my favorite and some interesting things that have been packed so far!

What did doctors and pharmacists in the early 20th century use to treat a variety of ailments? Every bottle we pulled off the shelf helped answer that question. The bottles, dark blue or brown glass contain things like lactic acid or a variety of oils. There are also jars and tins full of seeds and powders, like the jar of fennel seeds. Fennel has been used to treat stomach issues and is often used as flavoring in medicines. The jar belonged to Dr. Adolph (Ed) Baer who owned and operated Fisher’s Pharmacy in Hagerstown, Md.

Jar of Fennel Seeds (K2014.003.106)

Jar of Fennel Seeds (K2014.003.106)

The exhibit gives us a glimpse of tools and medicine used over decades, but it also shows us what Doctors and Nurses have worn. One of my favorite items in Beyond Chicken Soup is the nurse’s uniform, completed with the bright blue wool cape. The cape was made by Stein Uniform Co. of Baltimore and is lined with gold wool.

Nurse’s Cape (JMM 2009.092.010)

Nurse’s Cape (JMM 2009.092.010)

Although it looks real, the ring featuring a large molar is made out of plastic. Dental student, Edmund Kahn, around 1904 to propose to his girlfriend, Gertrude Fried. He later gave her a real ring and the pair were married in 1907.

“Tooth” Engagement Ring (1991.035.024)

“Tooth” Engagement Ring (1991.035.024)

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