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The Nightingale’s Song: Nurses & Nursing in the Ars Medica Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

August 26–October 29, 2000

An informative look at the fascinating history and varied facets of the nursing profession, The Nightingale’s Song is drawn entirely from the museum’s remarkable Ars Medica Collection. The eighty prints, drawings, and photographs in the show span six centuries and four continents: from late fifteenth-century Europe (the treatment of a German plague victim) to mid-nineteenth-century Asia (Florence Nightingale's military hospital in Turkey during the Crimean War) to twentieth-century Africa (a Red Cross tent in Zaire the 1920s) and the United States (the back-road rounds of Maude Callen, an African American mid-wife in North Carolina in the 1950s). The messages conveyed by the works on view are equally broad, ranging from the inspiring or cautionary to the satirical, the charming, and the downright funny.

Comprised of over 2,500 prints, drawings, photographs, and rare books housed in the Museum's Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, the Ars Medica Collection offers a remarkable view of the complex interrelationships between the worlds of medicine, pharmacy, public health and the visual arts. The Ars Medica Collection was developed with the support of a series of grants from the Philadelphia pharmaceutical firm SmithKline Beecham and others, and also includes an important group of prints, posters and ephemera given by William H. Helfand, a noted authority on the history of art and medicine.

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Funding for the publication accompanying The Nightingale's Song was made possible by Bayada Nurses in association with the Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.


William H. Helfand; John Ittmann, Curator of Prints, Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

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