The Art and Science of Healing: From Antiquity to the Renaissance

Exhibition Website

The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and the Audubon Room at the University of Michigan Library will host an exhibit on the early history of medicine. The Art and Science of Healing: From Antiquity to the Renaissance covers centuries of medical history as illustrated by a broad selection of archaeological artifacts, papyri, medieval manuscripts, and early printed books. 

It consists of five main themes:

  • Religion, Magic, and Healing
  • Graeco-Roman Medicine
  • Islamic Medicine
  • Medieval Medicine
  • Renaissance Medicine

Among the earliest artifacts to be displayed is a second-century AD papyrus with a text from Dioscorides’ On Materia Medica, while the latest object will be the first edition of William Harvey’s Anatomical Treatise on the Movement of the Heart and Blood in Animals, published in 1628.  The exhibit will explore various themes such as the role of religion and magic in healing the soul and the body, the persistent influence of Graeco-Roman methods of diagnosis and treatment in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and the transmission of medical knowledge in both manuscript and printed form. 

An audio component allows the visitor to listen to the vivid testimonies from the past preserved in these artifacts, from invocations of the gods to detailed descriptions of medical recipes.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

  • International
  • History
  • Various artists

Exhibition Venues & Dates