Preserved anatomical specimens. Models of the human body. Nineteenth-century surgical instruments. These are the subjects of “Bones Books and Bell Jars: Photographs of the Mütter Museum Collection,” a fascinating exhibit at the James. W. Palmer Gallery, running October 24-November 14.
Fine art photographer Andrea Baldeck '72, was given free rein to mine the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s vast collection of pathological specimens, anatomical models, surgical instruments, illustrated textbooks and other 19th century artifacts, to create her “cabinet of wonders” inspired still life photographs. The photographs offer a contemporary fusion of art and medicine, recalling an era when artists and physicians collaborated to educate aspiring medical students and share information with other medical practitioners.  Baldeck’s book of the same name was published in 2012.
“Bones Books and Bell Jars” opens with a reception on October 24 at 5 pm at the Palmer Gallery. An artist’s talk will follow on October 25 at noon. The exhibit will be on display through November 14, 11 am–6 pm daily.
Baldeck, who is also a medical doctor, began photographing with a simple box camera at age eight, imagining herself a Life photographer canoeing through the jungle to meet Albert Schweitzer. On medical trips to Haiti and Grenada, camera and stethoscope occupied the same bag. In the early 1990s she left medicine and began work as a fine art photographer in black and white. During the following decade, her portfolio grew to accommodate portraiture, still life, and landscapes, as featured in her books The Heart of Haiti (1996, second edition 2006), Talismanic (1998), Venice a personal View (1999), Touching the Mekong (2003), Closely Observed (2006), Presence Passing (2007), and Himalaya: Land of the Snow Lion (2009). Since 1996 she has exhibited widely in the U.S. and abroad, and her images are found in museums and private collections.
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