Exhibition: Medicine in Wartime

This is a past event

Medicine in Wartime:
Aberdeen's Medical Innovators
The Gallery, The Sir Duncan Rice Library
11th November 2017 to 18th March 2018

Medicine in wartime is a paradox: although it is conducted in the surgical theatre of war - an environment of devastation and death - it is in these abhorrent circumstances that the advancement of medical science can often take place.

This exhibition tells the stories of a small group of doctors, surgeons and nurses, associated with Aberdeen, who used medicine in wartime with courage and innovation. Their journals, letters, instruments and inventions from the Special Collections and Museum Collections at the University of Aberdeen evoke a period in military medical history that was challenging and ripe for change.

The story of medicine in wartime is ultimately one of uplifting human endeavour in times of mankind's greatest failing.

The case notes of the young ship's surgeon, Robert Wilson, who performed operations on injured servicemen before the availability of anaesthetic; and the first First Aid guide for soldiers, published posthumously by Surgeon Major Peter Shepherd, highlight the challenging medical conditions of conflicts in the early 1800s. In later years, an understanding of hygiene, bacteriology and antiseptic surgery by innovators such as James McGrigor, Alexander Ogston and Henry Gray helped dramatically to improve the survival rate of the British armed forces.


The bravery of battlefield medics was matched by the selflessness of medical inventors like James Mackenzie Davidson whose research in the dangerous field of radiography gave military and civilian surgeons new devices to use in the treatment of the wounded. Non-surgical practices were also given trials in wartime. Amelia Laws' use of massage, and a system of nutritional health in rationing devised by John Boyd Orr, and practiced in a unique way as a POW by David Lubbock all found the experience of war to be an opportunity for development.


'Medicine in Wartime' also features a series of works on paper by the artist Julia Midgley, which document surgeons in training and service personnel working to recover from injuries sustained in more recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Julia  will be giving an illustrated talk about the project 'Art, War and Surgery' as part of the series of talks that will accompany the exhibition.



Upcoming talks:


Thursday 18th January, 6-7pm

Tom Scotland will be giving a talk, "Henry Gray, Surgeon of the Great War: Saving Lives in a Theatre of Destruction.



Thursday 1st February, 6-7pm

David Rennie will be giving a talk, "Alexander Ogston,:Surgeon, Soldier and Scholar".



Thursday 22nd February, 6-7pm

John Scott will be giving a talk, "Shepherd, Cantlie and First Aid".



Thursday 1st March, 6-7pm

Julia Midgley will be giving a talk, "Between the Lines - Drawings of Military Medicine".




The Gallery is located on the ground floor of The Sir Duncan Rice Library, opposite the Welcome Desk.

Admission is FREE and you do not need a Library pass to enter the Gallery. All Welcome.

Opening Hours during semester are:

Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri: 10am - 5pm

Thursday: 10am - 7pm

Saturday: 10am - 4pm

Sunday: 11am - 4pm

New Year opening/closing

The usual opening hours will resume from Monday 8th January.


For more information about the exhibitions programme, contact Jennifer Shaw (Exhibitions Officer) jennifer.shaw@abdn.ac.uk



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