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MGH opens museum showcasing medical history, innovation

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  April 10, 2012 04:37 PM

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(Photo by Johanna Kaiser for

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Dr. Paul S. Russell use old surgical tools to cut a ribbon of gauze at the ceremonial opening of the The Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In its 200-year history, Massachusetts General Hospital has seen and accomplished scientific advances that have shaped modern medicine. As the hospital continues its work, the achievements -- past and present -- are on display at a new museum.

The Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation, a glass and copper faced building on the corner of North Grove and Cambridge streets, offers a glimpse into the hospital's work through interactive video screens of recent innovations and collections of tools of the trade used during the past two centuries.

"The Russell Museum a wonderful symbol the hospital's educational mission," Dr. Peter Slavin, president of MGH, said today at the robbon cutting.

Nearby, a video screen displayed photographs of doctors working in Boston-area communities or helping after disasters such as the Haiti earthquake, the Sept. 11 terror attacks, or Hurricane Katrina.

Among interactive displays and panels of the hospital's latest work, surgical tools and apothecary kits from the 19th century, a microscope from 1910, an ether mask, and much more are spread throughout the first floor of the museum. An operating chair from 1854 also sits in one corner.

But the hospital and the museum's supporters say the new exhibits will not focus only on past achievements.

"We've been around for 200 years, and we hope that the MGH may be able to offer some perspective on how medicine got to where it is today and where it might be going in the future," said Dr. David Torchiana, chairman and CEO of Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, before thanking chairman of the MGH History Museum, Dr. Paul S. Russell, the for whom the museum is named.

By chronicling the work and research of the hospital and its mission as one of the country's first general hospitals, Slavin hopes visitors will be able to see "the evolution of medicine and the innovation of medicine underway today that will shape the future of medice."

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino also said he hopes the museum will inspire young Bostonians to pursue careers in medicine to improve their own lives and the lives of others.

"We're never satisfied with what we are today; we always went to get better. That's why I hope this museum does more than document the past. I hope this museum helps shape the future of medicine," Menino said, before cutting the ceremonial ribbon of gauze.

The museum opens to the public on April 17 and also houses a gallery on the second floor and a rooftop garden overlooking Beacon Hill.
Twitter: @YourBeaconHill, @JohannaKaiser

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