How have scientists used art to build and share their understanding of human bodies?
Medicine and Art
Medicine: The scientific study of the human body with a focus on promoting health through the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.
Explore how different scientists have documented the human body through art. What questions were they asking about the human body? What techniques did they use to guide their observations or experiments? What role did imagination play in their scientific processes?
Scientists study medicine to better understand the health and wellness of the human body. By looking closely at the objects people created to express their medical knowledge, we can consider how they made sense of bodies and health.
This collaborative effort between an anatomist and an artist revolutionized people’s understanding of the human body.
Bring It Together
Once the medical artworks above have been explored, consider the following activities:
Adapt one of the objects into a new media format (movie, video game, meme, social media post, blog, website, etc...). How can the visual information be translated to the new format? How can the other elements of the object be translated to the new format?
Research and present on the development of one of the scientific topics covered in the spotlights (anatomy, childbirth, malaria, public health) from the time the object was created to today. In what ways has our knowledge about the topic changed since the object was created? In what ways has our knowledge about the topic stayed the same?
Explore modern medical art and compare and contrast it to the historical materials in this section.
Write a letter to one of the scientists.
- Tell them what you think they did well when conveying scientific information in their work.
- Tell them what you think they could do to improve their artistic representation of scientific ideas.
- Ask them questions. What do you wonder about their artistic process? What do you wonder about their scientific process? What do you wonder about their finished work?
Create an artwork to convey a scientific medical understanding. How do you understand the health and wellness of the human body?