Major exhibition at the Canadian War Museum examines paradox of War and Medicine

OTTAWA, May 26, 2011 /CNW/ - War inflicts terrible physical and mental injuries. Medical practitioners try to save lives, manage disease and rehabilitate the wounded. War and Medicine, presented by Rx&D and opening today at the Canadian War Museum (CWM), invites visitors to discover the uneasy relationship between warfare and the medical profession over the past 150 years, from the Crimean War (1854-1856) to contemporary conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"War and Medicine provides an unflinching look at the physical and psychological injuries of war and, at the same time, honours the diligence and compassion of the caregivers who try to repair the damage," said Mark O'Neill, Director General of the Canadian War Museum. "On a deeper level, this is an intellectually engaging exhibition that explores how humanity's desire to heal struggles to keep pace with our capacity to maim and kill."

The exhibition was originally developed by the Wellcome Collection in London, United Kingdom, and the Deutsches Hygiene Museum in Dresden, Germany. The Canadian War Museum has adapted this presentation of War and Medicine to include more than 100 Canadian artifacts, images and stories from the War Museum's own collections.

Visitors will see scientific specimens, medical devices, photographs, letters, paintings and other objects that illustrate how injury, infection and psychological trauma devastate those on the front lines. They also will see how resourceful medical practitioners have devised adaptations in medical treatment, disease prevention, physical rehabilitation and psychological healing.

The exhibition is divided into three main thematic sections:

  • "The System" looks at the transition from early medical practices to organized care in the mid-1800s and beyond.
  • "The Body" concerns the physical effects of war, from bullets, bombs and shrapnel to disease, infection and malnutrition.
  • "The Mind" considers the less visible but no less devastating psychological injuries of combat, including the long struggle to recognize post-traumatic stress disorder as a legitimate illness.

The intriguing science and history on display in War and Medicine are woven through with the personal stories of soldiers who have faced the horrors of war, and those who have dedicated themselves to saving lives, managing disease and rehabilitating the injured.

War and Medicine is presented from May 27 until November 13, 2011 at the Canadian War Museum, the only North American venue for this exhibition.

This exhibition contains images and artifacts that some visitors may find disturbing.  Resources are available at the Information Desk to enable Museum visitors to plan how they visit the exhibition.

Rx&D is the association of leading research-based pharmaceutical companies dedicated to improving the health of all Canadians through the discovery and development of new medicines and vaccines.

The Canadian War Museum is Canada's national Museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada's military history in its personal, national and international dimensions.

SOURCE Canadian War Museum

For further information:

Information (media):

Avra Gibbs Lamey
Communications and Media Relations Officer 
Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819 776-8607
          Yasmine Mingay
Manager, Communications 
Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819 776-8608

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