Eesti muuseumide meditsiinilooliste kogude ja esemete väljaselgitamine
Mapping of the Collections of History of Medicine
in Estonian Museums
Leili Kriis, Sirje Sisask
University of Tartu Museum
The work plan of the University of Tartu Museum for the following
years includes creating a new exposition for the university’s Old Anatomical
Theatre. This made us wonder, what kinds of collections of
history of medicine are there in other Estonian museums. A great
opportunity to obtain information opened up with the Ministry of
Culture’s support programme for developing museums that we participated
in with our project “Mapping of the Collections of History of
Medicine in Estonian Museums” from 17 April to 31 December 2013.
To obtain data, we designed a questionnaire for the chief treasurers
of the museums. Based on the answers we received, the following
overview was compiled.
At the time we conducted the survey, more than half of the materials
of history of medicine in the museum collections had been
entered also into the Estonian Museum Information System MuIS.
Keywords related to the topic of medicine have been used. Most of
the corresponding materials in Estonian museums are connected to
pharmacies (material objects as well as photographs and archive materials),
and furnishings of dental practices (Pärnu Museum, Võru
County Museum, etc.). Regional museums also contain objects of veterinary
medicine. There are rare items of history of medicine such
as an inoculation knife, cupping lancets, bloodletting devices, a bone
saw, an irritation instrument, healing stones, a homoeopathic pharmacy,
and many more. The most noteworthy archive materials are
probably the inoculation materials, mud treatment materials (materials
and manuscripts of Dr Hunnius from Haapsalu, mud treatment
history of Saaremaa), and manuscripts by medics (historical overviews).
Topics like doping (the Estonian Sports Museum), designing
medical institutions (hospitals, sanatoriums, etc.) (Museum of Estonian
Architecture, Museum of Viljandi), diseases and stress, and how
these are reflected in a person’s creative work (Estonian Theatre and
Music Museum) have also been documented. Most valuable are the
stories found in the collections of county museums that tell of medical
institutions (hospitals, pharmacies, sanatoriums, leprosariums, etc.)
that have operated or are operating in the region and reflect the specific
character of the region, as well as the materials of well-known local
medics. Also materials related to alternative and folk medicine. All
this enriches the general picture of the Estonian history of medicine.
Our working group reached the conclusion that the contents of
the MuIS dictionary should be structured in a better manner and
supplemented with topics that are reflected in specific museum collections
(alternative medicine, nutrition, environment, etc.). Images
of museum objects are also important data carriers in the database.
Rare historical documents deserve to be digitised as soon as possible
since they tend to become fragile with time. Regional museums
should also find room for materials related to the history and doctors
of local medical institutions.