Russell Museum at MGH

Russell Museum at MGH The Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation tells the rich story of Massachusetts General Hospital.
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Massachusetts General Hospital was established in 1811 to serve Boston's general public. At that time, the sickest and most vulnerable patients were cared for in almshouses, while the wealthy could afford private care at home. Creating a general hospital was an innovative idea. Since its inception more than 200 years ago, Mass General has remained at the forefront of medicine by fostering a culture of innovation. We continue to conduct groundbreaking research, educate health care professionals from around the world and, most importantly, improve the quality of clinical care provided to all members of our community. The Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation tells the rich story of Mass General through interactive media displays, artifacts and photographs. You can learn about the hospital's important contributions to the medical field and see how these discoveries and advancements have shaped the present – and how the hospital can continue to shape the future of medicine. The Russell Museum is dedicated to drawing connections between innovations spanning a period of more than 200 years – from the hospital’s charter in 1811 to present day. We encourage you to visit us for an experience that will inform, inspire and engage. Honoring Paul S. Russell, MD The museum is named in honor of Paul S. Russell, MD, a pioneer in the field of transplant surgery and chair of the Mass General History Committee. Dr. Russell was the chief of surgery from 1962 to 1968 and directed the Mass General Transplantation Unit from 1968 to 1990. In addition to founding the Boston Interhospital Organ Bank (now the New England Organ Bank), he has served as a professor at Harvard Medical School since 1962. "There is so much to tell and a great sweep of interest – not only on the clinical side, but also on the research and community side – specifically around how the hospital has continued its tradition of caring for its neighbors, which today can mean in our community or around the world," Dr. Russell said.

Next in your medical museum at home: a skylight, or if you don’t have one, a window. Mass General Hospital was originall...
05/27/2020

Next in your medical museum at home: a skylight, or if you don’t have one, a window. Mass General Hospital was originally lit with whale oil lamps, and later with gas ones, before installing electric lamps in the 1880s. The Ether Dome, which was the hospital’s operating room from 1821 through 1867, includes a skylight, which provided surgeons with a clear, steady light to supplement the flickering lamps.

Next in your medical museum at home: a sponge. During the first successful public demonstration of anesthesia at MGH in ...
05/26/2020

Next in your medical museum at home: a sponge. During the first successful public demonstration of anesthesia at MGH in 1846, William Morton administered ether to the patient in an inhaler that consisted of a glass globe with two nozzles. Inside the inhaler, Morton had placed an ether-soaked sponge -- a sea sponge, not the kind with a scouring pad attached.

Next in our “meet the museum team” series is Tegan Kehoe. As the museum’s exhibit and education specialist, she research...
05/23/2020

Next in our “meet the museum team” series is Tegan Kehoe. As the museum’s exhibit and education specialist, she researches and writes exhibits, creates hands-on activities, schedules group visits, and leads some of those visits. She says: “My favorite artifact changes every time I start researching a new exhibit! A perennial favorite is a pill bottle from the clinical trials of the HIV drug AZT. As a queer person who’s too young to remember the early years of the AIDS crisis, I find the bottle a moving reminder of our very recent history, and of the fact that despite amazing advances in medicine, for many people the crisis is not yet over.”

Next in your medical museum at home: a plant mister. They look and function very much like the carbolic acid sprayers th...
05/22/2020

Next in your medical museum at home: a plant mister. They look and function very much like the carbolic acid sprayers that Joseph Lister introduced to surgical practice (but don’t spray your plants with disinfectant!). Lister was a pioneer of antiseptic practices in surgery in the late 19th century, which earned him a good deal of scorn as well as praise. Sprayers were designed to cover the patient, surgeon and operating field with a fine mist of disinfectant. In 1871, Lister operated on Queen Victoria, and her physician accidentally sprayed her in the face. Shortly afterward, Lister stopped advocating for this type of sprayer, but not because of this incident -- it had become clear that spraying the air was less effective than disinfecting tools and bandages.

Next in your medical museum at home: an electrical outlet. In 1896, Mass General was the site of the first X-ray exposur...
05/19/2020

Next in your medical museum at home: an electrical outlet. In 1896, Mass General was the site of the first X-ray exposure in a Boston hospital, less than a year after German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovered them. Within a few years of the discovery, scientists became aware that over-exposure to radiation was a serious health risk, but it took decades to understand how much and how best to protect both patients and X-ray operators. However, X-ray machines were immediately recognized as powerful and potentially dangerous, because generating x-rays required high voltage electricity.

05/18/2020

CANCELLED: The June 1 lecture by Dani Shapiro, author of “Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love,” has been cancelled, with the hope we can reschedule at a later time.

However, we want to offer what programming we can. Please feel free to suggest topics, speakers or formats for virtual events.

Next in your medical museum at home is sugar. A “sugar pill” is the nickname for a placebo drug -- a capsule, tablet or ...
05/18/2020

Next in your medical museum at home is sugar. A “sugar pill” is the nickname for a placebo drug -- a capsule, tablet or liquid that looks like a medication but has no active ingredient (it might include sugar, starch, or saline, for example). The placebo effect is when just the fact of taking a pill or believing you are receiving medication has some influence on your symptoms. Many studies of new medications give a placebo to the control group so that the study subjects can’t tell which group they are in -- so the study measures the effect of the drug and not the placebo effect. MGH anesthesiologist Henry Knowles Beecher was one of the first to advocate for using placebos to create controlled, double-blind trials in his 1955 paper “The Powerful Placebo.”

The museum's last in-person lecture was delivered by Mass General’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, Joseph Betancour...
05/17/2020
COVID-19 Response

The museum's last in-person lecture was delivered by Mass General’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, Joseph Betancourt, MD, MPH. We look forward to a day when society is united in tackling the structural issues that make equity, inclusion, and disparities issues so vital in health care. Here’s some information on the MGH Equity and Community Health COVID Response Team: https://www.mghdisparitiessolutions.org/covid-19 #dreamsMW

Mass General Brigham (MGB) has launched a system-wide effort to ensure that patients, providers, and employees are treated equitably and have access to necessary information during the COVID-19 pandemic. The MGB COVID-19 webpage contains information for patients and employees in multiple languag...

Next in our “meet the museum team” series is graphic designer Lindsey Ruane. She says: “While I am safely working from h...
05/16/2020

Next in our “meet the museum team” series is graphic designer Lindsey Ruane. She says: “While I am safely working from home, I miss walking through the Russell Museum to measure the space and plan for upcoming exhibits.” Some of her favorite artifacts are a bottle of “vegetable tonic” sold by 19th century Massachusetts entrepreneur Lydia Pinkham, and an MGH nurse’s charm. “I love the design of this simply elegant charm. In the shape of an MGH nursing cap and given out to MGH School of Nursing graduates, an artifact like this is a treat to see during the Year of the Nurse.”

As a museum of both history and innovation, we know that something doesn’t have to be historical to be historic. We have...
05/16/2020
COVID Innovation Center Continues to Identify New Ways to Protect Patients and Staff

As a museum of both history and innovation, we know that something doesn’t have to be historical to be historic. We have already touched base with some of the innovators within the hospital working on COVID-19 response to say: “Don’t throw out your prototypes, we may want them!” Here’s a peek at the kind of work being done at Mass General: https://www.massgeneral.org/news/coronavirus/research/mobilizing-response/covid-innovation-center-prototypes-protection #technologyMW

Ideas, knowledge and advances are streaming from Massachusetts General Hospital's laboratories, bedsides, clinics, offices and workshops – and from a cluttered corner of Ruth Sleeper Hall.

Russell Museum at MGH
05/15/2020

Russell Museum at MGH

Today’s #MuseumWeek theme is climate change. #climateMW What does that have to do with health care? Plenty. For instance...
05/15/2020
Climate Change Meets an Aging Population

Today’s #MuseumWeek theme is climate change. #climateMW What does that have to do with health care? Plenty. For instance, the kind of extreme weather events that are growing more common due to climate change are disproportionately dangerous to senior citizens. Last summer, Proto Magazine: Dispatches From the Frontiers of Medicine interviewed MGH’s Dr. Renee Salas about her research on this issue. http://protomag.com/articles/climate-change-meets-aging-population

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, nearly half of the 52 people who died from the flooding and subsequent loss of services were at least 65 years old. Other weather-related disasters—severe heat waves, flooding and wildfires—also disproportionately affect older people, who may have healt...

Next in your “medical museum at home” and also from the “don’t try this at home” files is a bowl. In the 18th and 19th c...
05/14/2020

Next in your “medical museum at home” and also from the “don’t try this at home” files is a bowl. In the 18th and 19th centuries, physicians placed a bowl under a patient’s arm while bleeding them. Bloodletting was a major component of the school of thought broadly known as “heroic medicine,” which advocated treatments that depleted the body, supposedly ridding it of disease or imbalances. Doctors might cut a patient or use leeches to draw blood, or give drugs (often including mercury) to induce vomiting, diarrhea, or profuse sweating.

Today museums are sharing favorite memories with #MuseumMomentsMW. In this photo from 2016, an MGH doctor and a group of...
05/14/2020

Today museums are sharing favorite memories with #MuseumMomentsMW. In this photo from 2016, an MGH doctor and a group of high schoolers reviewed imaging results from their “patient,” a medical simulation mannequin. The MGH Learning Laboratory uses medical simulation to do hands-on education and professional development within the hospital. When the museum is open, we host their special simulation sessions for schools and the public. Recently, the Learning Lab has provided medical simulation equipment to several departments and conducted in-situ trainings as people from all over the hospital adapt to changing medical needs in the pandemic.

It’s #MuseumWeek, and we’re joining museums around the world to post about the theme of togetherness. #togetherMW This p...
05/13/2020

It’s #MuseumWeek, and we’re joining museums around the world to post about the theme of togetherness. #togetherMW This photo is from the Massachusetts General Hospital Nurses’ Alumnae Association Reunion in 1915. In the front row are MGH nursing luminaries Annabella McCrae, Sara Parsons, Pauline Dolliver, Carrie Hall, Anna Maxwell, Sophia Palmer and Linda Richards. The photo also appears in the museum’s recent panel exhibit on Florence Nightingale’s lasting influence:https://www.mghpcs.org/caring/assets/documents/covid-19/04-10-nightingale-small.pdf

A fitting way to cap off National Nurse’s Week, today is nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. Known as...
05/12/2020
Notes on nursing : what it is, and what it is not : Nightingale, Florence, 1820-1910 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

A fitting way to cap off National Nurse’s Week, today is nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. Known as the lady with the lamp because she checked on patients during the night at a time when this wasn’t common practice, Nightingale was a nursing leader in the Crimean War, founded the Nightingale Training School at St Thomas' Hospital in London, and wrote several important books on nursing and hospital practice, including her textbook “Notes on Nursing: What it Is, and What it is Not.” You can read the full text of this glimpse into 1859 here: https://archive.org/details/notesnursingwhat00nigh

The appearance of this facsimile reprint is the culmination of an initial suggestion from Helen G. McClelland, Director of Nursing of the Philadelphia...

In 1900, the American Journal of Nursing, the first independent nursing publication to be run by nurses, was founded by ...
05/12/2020

In 1900, the American Journal of Nursing, the first independent nursing publication to be run by nurses, was founded by Sophia Palmer and Mary E.P. Davis. (Massachusetts began issuing registered nurse licenses in 1910, which is why there’s no RN in their names.) Both of them graduated from the Massachusetts General Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1878. The former Palmer-Davis Nursing Library at MGH was named for them (it merged with MGH’s Treadwell Library in 1981).

Sara Parsons, RN, was the Superintendent of Nurses at MGH from 1910 to 1920, and led a 64-nurse team at the MGH-run Base...
05/12/2020

Sara Parsons, RN, was the Superintendent of Nurses at MGH from 1910 to 1920, and led a 64-nurse team at the MGH-run Base Hospital No. 6 outside of Bordeaux, France during WWI. After returning from the war, she testified to the U.S. Senate as part of a campaign to get military rank for army nurses, a campaign which had many setbacks but was eventually successful. Parsons led by example in standing up for these healthcare heroes in ways that made a lasting difference.

While MGH history has many well-known leaders within nursing, Ida Maud Cannon, who helped create the field of hospital s...
05/11/2020

While MGH history has many well-known leaders within nursing, Ida Maud Cannon, who helped create the field of hospital social work, also had a background as a nurse. As Chief of the Medical Social Services at MGH, she ensured that her clinical staff had some training in understanding patients’ psychosocial needs and that her social work staff had some training in understanding their medical needs. Medical social work helps patients navigate what we now call social determinants of health, such as the ways socioeconomic status, education, neighborhood and physical environment, employment, and social support networks influence health.

While the museum is temporarily closed, we’d like to introduce members of the museum team. First up is museum director S...
05/09/2020

While the museum is temporarily closed, we’d like to introduce members of the museum team. First up is museum director Sarah Alger. She says: “My favorite thing about the museum is our visitors. You can never predict what surprising, delightful conversations you might have within a single day. My favorite artifact is the X-ray tube used by the hospital's first radiologist, Walter Dodd.” She wrote about the X-ray tube in 2016: http://www.wondersandmarvels.com/2016/01/museum-mysteries-walter-dodd-and-his-x-ray-tube.html

Celebrating Nurses' Week: Ruth Sleeper, RN, was the director of MGH’s Nursing Service and the Massachusetts General Hosp...
05/08/2020

Celebrating Nurses' Week: Ruth Sleeper, RN, was the director of MGH’s Nursing Service and the Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing from 1946 to 1966. She was a leader in raising academic standards of nursing education and expanding classroom time for nurses-in-training while also personally mentoring many students and graduates. In addition to leading several national and international nursing organizations, in 1964 she became the second non-physician ever to serve on MGH's General Executive Committee, the hospital’s major policy-making body.

Massachusetts General Hospital
05/07/2020

Massachusetts General Hospital

Florence Nightingale is regarded as the founder of modern nursing. Based on the principles established by Nightingale, the Mass General School of Nursing was founded in 1873. Today, Mass General still honors her through the Florence Nightingale Award, which celebrates nurses for their outstanding contributions and dedication to caring for others. Check out this Nightingale Sculpture that Mass General acquired in 1872. #TBT #NationalNursesWeek https://fal.cn/37X6o

Celebrating Nurses' Week: Florence Nightingale wasn't the only health care leader of the Crimean War. Mary Seacole, who ...
05/07/2020

Celebrating Nurses' Week: Florence Nightingale wasn't the only health care leader of the Crimean War. Mary Seacole, who was Jamaican and British and grew up in Jamaica, applied to the British War Office to go to Crimea as a nurse, but was rejected. She set up her own “British Hotel” and provided food and health care to officers.

(Portrait of Mary Seacole c. 1869, Albert Charles Challen.)

National Nurses’ Week is May 6 through May 12, the final day marking the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale. The mus...
05/06/2020

National Nurses’ Week is May 6 through May 12, the final day marking the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale. The museum's new exhibit about her can be found in the link below. (Also, stay tuned for posts about other leaders from nursing history all week.)

https://www.mghpcs.org/caring/assets/documents/covid-19/04-10-nightingale-small.pdf

Next in your medical museum at home is a water faucet. If you live in most parts of the U.S., you can get clean drinking...
05/05/2020

Next in your medical museum at home is a water faucet. If you live in most parts of the U.S., you can get clean drinking water from your tap. In the 19th century, you might have gotten your water by pumping it out of a communal well. One of the most famous moments in the history of epidemiology happened around a communal water pump: in 1854, cholera spread through the SoHo district of London. Physician John Snow discovered that every victim had used the same pump. Snow was able to convince authorities to remove the pump handle because the local water supply had been contaminated, even though the concept of waterborne illness was an unpopular, unproven theory at the time.

Next in your medical museum at home: a toothbrush. Dental care has long had a complicated relationship with the rest of ...
05/04/2020

Next in your medical museum at home: a toothbrush. Dental care has long had a complicated relationship with the rest of health care. In 1840, a group of dentists in Baltimore sought to create the first college of dentistry and approached a medical school about affiliating, but they were turned down in an event sometimes called “the historic rebuff.” However, oral surgery has been a bridge between dentistry and surgery; MGH’s Dental Service (now Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery) was founded in 1868 in partnership with the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Pictured is a set of oral surgery tools that belonged to Dr. Varaztad Kazanjian, who is considered the founder of modern reconstructive surgery for the techniques he developed in WWI.

Today’s item in your medical museum at home: a baseball. In May 1962, a team of surgeons at MGH completed the first-ever...
05/02/2020

Today’s item in your medical museum at home: a baseball. In May 1962, a team of surgeons at MGH completed the first-ever complete limb replantation, re-attaching the arm of a 12-year-old boy who had lost it in an accident. An avid Little-Leaguer, the patient is often pictured with his baseball, and he was able to play again a few years later.

Next in your medical museum at home: a bicycle. You may remember MGH cardiologist Paul Dudley White from yesterday’s pos...
05/01/2020
» Exhibition: Cycling Legends of the West EndThe West End Museum

Next in your medical museum at home: a bicycle. You may remember MGH cardiologist Paul Dudley White from yesterday’s post. White was an early advocate of exercise as a part of preventative care for heart health and a passionate amateur cyclist, and prescribed President Eisenhower a cycling regimen as a part of his care after his heart attack. Two of his own bicycles, in the Russell Museum’s collection, are currently on loan to The West End Museum for their exhibit Cycling Legends of the West End. While the West End Museum is also temporarily closed, you can read more about the exhibit here:
https://thewestendmuseum.org/uncategorized/exhibition-cycling-legends-of-the-west-end/

Exhibition: Cycling Legends of the West End Runs February 18, 2020 through May 30, 2020. Reception on February 29 from 2-4pm. Exhibition and reception are free. Boston, MA— On Tuesday, February 18, The West End Museum premieres a new exhibit, “Cycling Legends of the West End,” which highlights...

Next in your medical museum at home: a fan. WWI was the first time that chemical weapons were used on a large scale, and...
04/30/2020

Next in your medical museum at home: a fan. WWI was the first time that chemical weapons were used on a large scale, and deadly chlorine gas was first deployed in April of 1915. One early defensive plan by the British was to use thousands of fans to disperse gas attacks. MGH cardiologist Paul Dudley White devised a series of rehabilitation exercises and tests to determine when soldiers recovering from gas attacks were ready to return to the front, which were later used for soldiers recovering from any kind of injury.

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2 North Grove St
Boston, MA
02114

General information

Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, year-round. 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday, April-October. Our social media policy: http://www.massgeneral.org/notices/socialmediapolicy.aspx

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Comments

Ms Flaherty: the urge to write. Yes, I have been writing like mad into my notebook, I am 66 overcame cancer basically and home alone in my apartment in Seattle. Western Penna native and never married. Dennis Percherke
Is the museum open on saturdays in November?