Exhibit on Intersections of Medical Science and Art Opens in May 2022

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This is a guest post by exhibit curator Sabrina Oliveros 

Original engravings from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Facsimiles of masterworks by Andreas Vesalius and Leonardo da Vinci. Images produced through technologies developed at UCSF – including a three-dimensional rendering of a patient’s lungs with COVID-19.

See all these groundbreaking images from the history of medicine, and many more works of science and art, at an exhibit opening in May 2022 at the UCSF Library.

Entitled Seeing the Self Anew: How Art and Science Intersect, this exhibit uses anatomical atlases, medical artifacts, and other materials from UCSF Archives & Special Collections to explore some ways that artists and scientists have informed each other’s work when examining a common subject: the human body.

Frontispiece of De humanis corporis fabrica, libri septem (1543) by Andreas Vesalius.

Collaborations and inspirations

On one level, the relationship between artists and scientists is collaborative. As scientists uncover new knowledge about the body, artists put this information into visual form, recording and disseminating it.

Exhibits in the library’s main lobby feature such collaborations, which, at the times of their publications, counted as the most accurate and attractive anatomical atlases the world had seen. These include books like De humanis corporis fabrica (1543 facsimile) by Andreas Vesalius, which set new directions for the art and science of anatomy; Osteographia (1733) by William Cheselden, which showed the bones in life-like size and detail; and the pioneering manuals on obstetrics by William Hunter (1774) and William Smellie (1793 edition).  

Other displays also show what is created when artists engage with the science of depicting the human body – best exemplified in the works of Albrecht Dürer and Leonard da Vinci.

“The Flayed Angel” from Myologie complètte en couleur et grandeur naturelle (1746) by Jacques Fabian Gautier d’Agoty.

More featured illustrations – like “The Flayed Angel” (1746) by Jacques Fabian Gautier d’Agoty, and fantastical skeletons by Jacques Gamelin (1779) – arguably have less instructional value for medical students. Still, they suggest how anatomical studies inspired artists to produce compelling images all their own.

The rare books and artifacts on this floor are supplemented by images from the National Library of Medicine.

Inventions and new dimensions

Art and science also intersect in engineering, where drawings guide the design of instruments. From microscopes and stereoscopes to x-rays and MRI technology, these instruments facilitate further studies, procedures, and treatments that produce even newer images of the body.

Exhibits on the library’s fifth floor offer a glimpse into such designs. These include conceptual sketches and models envisioned by early 20th-century UCSF professionals like Verne T. Inman, Howard C. Naffziger, and Saxton T. Pope.  

The fifth-floor displays are highlighted by selections from Images, the official publication of the UCSF Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging, dating from 2012 to 2021. With detail and depth that perhaps even the most accomplished early modern artist-anatomists could not have imagined, these illustrations show how far scientists have come – and how much farther they can go – in enabling us to see, and understand, our bodies and our selves anew.

The latest issue of Images magazine renders, in 3D, the lungs of a patient with COVID-19 pneumonia.

Seeing the Self Anew will be on display on two floors (third and fifth) of the UCSF Library at Parnassus through Spring 2023. UCSF Library is currently open to UCSF faculty, staff, and students via ID badge access Monday–Friday from 7:30am–6pm. Changes to in-person library access will be shared through library website as UCSF policies and guidelines are updated in the coming months.

October is Archives Month!

Every October we celebrate Archives Month to reflect on the value of historical materials and to highlight UCSF Archives programs and services. This year we are marking the occasion in the midst of the era-defining triple pandemic of COVID-19, systemic racism, and police violence, not to mention momentous political upheaval.

Now as much as ever, it is critical to protect the records of the past and of the present. We are living through and making history; we must ensure that a diverse and inclusive record of this time is preserved for those in the future to access and understand.

Here are some ways you can get involved to celebrate Archives Month:

Get started collecting and caring for your records (emails, photos, blogs, social media, reports, websites, etc). Consider submitting your materials to the UCSF COVID-19 Pandemic Chronicles.

Do you manage or contribute to a UCSF website? Check out our guidelines for preserving UCSF websites as part of the historical record of the University.

Join us on Wednesday October 7 for #AskAnArchivist Day! UCSF archivists will be standing by from 10am-2pm PDT on Twitter to answer your questions and chat about archives and UCSF history. Ask us anything at @ucsf_archives.

Interested in learning from the history of the health sciences to address current challenges? We’re excited to co-present Vesalius and Wrist Pain: Using Medical History to Solve Current Problems with the Bay Area History of Medicine Society on October 21 at 6:30pm PDT, with speaker Dr. David Lincoln Nelson. Please register in advance.

Visit our free online exhibit “’They Were Really Us’: The UCSF Community’s Early Response to AIDS” for a fascinating and moving story of how UCSF leaders in the 1980s and 1990s broke ground in the fight against the virus, launching the first AIDS clinic in the world and contributing to the identification of what came to be known as HIV.

To explore recordings of our past Archives Talks on topics ranging from Black Women Physicians’ Careers, Elderhood, Documenting While Black, and the Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy, please visit our Archives Events and Exhibits page.

“They Were Really Us”: The UCSF Community’s Early Response to AIDS — A New Exhibition on Calisphere

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By Polina Ilieva, Head of Archives and Special Collections

When HIV/AIDS first seized the nation’s attention in the early 1980s, it was a disease with no name, known cause, treatment, or cure. Beginning as a medical mystery, it turned into one of the most divisive social and political issues of the 20th century. The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) was at the forefront of medical institutions trying to understand the disease and effectively treat early AIDS patients.

Drawing on materials from the AIDS History Project collections preserved in UCSF’s Archives and Special Collections, the UCSF Library presents “They Were Really Us”: The UCSF Community’s Early Response to AIDS, a new digital exhibition on Calisphere that highlights the ways UCSF clinicians and staff addressed HIV/AIDS from its outbreak in the 1980s to the foundation of the AIDS Research Institute in 1996. 

From medical professionals defining the disease and developing a model of care, to activists calling for treatments and public education, this exhibition amplifies the resilience of a community not only responding to its local needs, but also breaking ground on a larger scale with efforts that continue to impact HIV/AIDS care and research today. 

The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt panels displayed at San Francisco City Hall during San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Freedom Day Parade, UCSF Library, Archives and Special Collections.

This exhibition, including the digitization of materials used in this exhibition, has been made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (PW-253755-17) “The San Francisco Bay Area’s Response to the AIDS Epidemic: Digitizing, Reuniting, and Providing Universal Access to Historical AIDS Records,” awarded to the UCSF Library in 2017-2020.

About UCSF Archives and Special Collections

UCSF Archives and Special Collections identifies, collects, preserves, and maintains rare and unique materials to support research and teaching of the health sciences and medical humanities and to preserve UCSF institutional memory. The Archives serve as the official repository for the preservation of selected records, print and born-digital materials, and realia generated by or about the UCSF, including all four schools, the Graduate Division, and the UCSF Medical Center.

The Special Collections encompasses a Rare Book Collection that includes incunabula, early printed works, and modern secondary works. The East Asian Collection is especially strong in works related to the history of Western medicine in Japan.The Japanese Woodblock Print Collection consists of 400 prints and 100 scrolls, dating from 16th to the 20th century. The Special Collections also contains papers of health care providers and researchers from San Francisco and California; historical records of UCSF hospitals; administrative records of regional health institutions; photographs and slides; motion picture films and videotapes; and oral histories focusing on development of biotechnology; the practice and science of medicine; healthcare delivery, economics, and administration; tobacco control; anesthesiology;  homeopathy and alternative medicine; obstetrics and gynecology; high altitude physiology; occupational medicine; HIV/AIDS and global health.

About Calisphere

Calisphere provides free access to California’s remarkable digital collections, which include unique and historically important artifacts from the University of California and other educational and cultural heritage institutions across the state. Calisphere provides digital access to over one million photographs, documents, letters, artwork, diaries, oral histories, films, advertisements, musical recordings, and more.
Calisphere Exhibitions are curated sets of items with scholarly interpretation that contribute to historical understanding. Exhibitions tell a story by adding context to selected digital primary sources in Calisphere, thereby bringing the digital content to life. Calisphere Exhibitions are curated by contributing institutions and undergo editorial review. We are currently refining these processes, which are outlined in the Contributor Help Center. Please contact us if you’re interested in learning more about Calisphere Exhibitions.

New Online Exhibit – Shanti Projects: Histories of Shanti Project and the AIDS Crisis

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We are delighted to announce a launch of an online exhibit, Shanti Projects: Histories of Shanti Project and the AIDS Crisis curated by University of Minnesota American Studies graduate student Brendan McHugh. It documents Shanti Project’s AIDS care work during the early decades of the AIDS crisis. Since 1974 Shanti has provided psychosocial peer support counseling to people with life-threatening illnesses and their loved ones in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. During the early years of the AIDS crisis, Shanti rose to the challenge by creating groundbreaking services for people living with AIDS/HIV. For much of the 1980s and 1990s Shanti was one of the largest AIDS organizations in the U.S. The plurality of the exhibit’s title reflects the vast array of people’s experiences at Shanti during that time period, as well as those who work with Shanti today. Visit the exhibit at https://shantiprojects.dash.umn.edu

Shanti Projects online exhibit homepage
Shanti Projects online exhibit homepage

Shanti Projects is organized to reflect the process of becoming involved with Shanti as a volunteer. Alongside the main exhibit are three multimedia pages showcasing the work of photographers Judi Iranyi, Mariella Poli, and Jim Wigler and their portraits of people with AIDS/HIV who played important roles with Shanti. In the future, the final page Active Listening will provide audio clips from oral histories conducted for this project with accompanying transcripts to follow. Additional materials and sources have been provided by The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Historical Society, University of California, San Francisco, and generous interviewees personal materials.

A Shanti Support Group, circa 1985. Photo by Judi Iranyi
A Shanti Support Group, circa 1985. Photo by Judi Iranyi

There will also be a newsletter published monthly to announce updates on new material and events connected to the exhibit. Please sign up through the link on the exhibit website. For more information contact Brendan McHugh at mchug103@umn.edu.

[This press release was provided by Brendan McHugh]

They Were Really Us, AIDS History Exhibit, Opens on October 1

Featured

This is a guest post by exhibit curator Sabrina Oliveros 

When HIV/AIDS first seized the nation’s attention in the early 1980s, it was a disease with no name, known cause, treatment, or cure. Beginning as a medical mystery, it turned into one of the most divisive social and political issues of the 20th century.

On October 1, 2019, UCSF Archives & Special Collections is opening the exhibit They Were Really Us: The UCSF Community’s Early Response to AIDS. Featuring materials from the Archives’ extensive AIDS History Project Collections, the show highlights ways individual professionals affiliated with UCSF acted to address HIV/AIDS following its outbreak. Their responses included working in and with the larger San Francisco community – and continue to impact HIV/AIDS care and research today.

The exhibit title comes from a statement by Dr. Paul Volberding, who co-founded the country’s first dedicated AIDS Clinic in 1983; he now serves as the Director of UCSF’s AIDS Research Institute:

“The patients were exactly our age… all those other ways that we tend to separate ourselves meant very little when you realize that the patients had gone to the same schools, they listened to the same music, they went to the same restaurants. So they were really us… which added to the commitment that I think all of us had.”

Early milestones

The first proofs of that commitment are traced through displays on the main lobby (third floor) of the UCSF Library.

Here, papers, slides, photographs, and artifacts help outline early milestones in HIV/AIDS research and care. These include the foundation of the Kaposi’s Sarcoma Clinic at UCSF, which sought to understand the mysterious “cancer” that turned out to be AIDS; the discovery of the HIV virus in 1983 by Dr. Jay Levy; the establishment of the outpatient and inpatient AIDS clinics at San Francisco General Hospital; and the development of the holistic San Francisco Model of AIDS Care.

Pioneering and compassionate, this model treated people with AIDS not simply as patients requiring medical attention, but as complex individuals also in need of psychological, social, economic, and political support.

Excerpts from the diary of Bobbi Campbell – a UCSF nursing student who championed the People With AIDS Self-Empowerment Movement – help tell some of these individual stories. So do a selection of newsletters and other materials that lend voices to persons with AIDS.

A loaned section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt caps off the displays.

Community voices

The outbreak of HIV/AIDS devastated the city of San Francisco; it also mobilized the community. Exhibits on the first floor of the library showcase the work done by community organizations that, beyond the medical front, fought HIV/AIDS.

Reproductions of posters – mostly from UCSF’s longest-running partners, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Shanti Project – represent outreach and educational campaigns necessary to combat the disease. Materials from Mobilization Against AIDS and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP) speak to the political battle that AIDS became.

How much of an impact did these advocacy groups make? A selection of letters, written to the leaders of Mobilization Against AIDS and AIDS Treatment News, offer an idea.  

Continuing care

On the fifth floor of the library, displays touch on two more milestones following the 1980s.

The first, UCSF’s sponsoring of the 6th International Conference on AIDS, is one of the many examples of how physicians and researchers have expanded their work on a global scale. Revisiting this 1990 conference is timely, as the 23rd International Conference on AIDS will take place in Oakland and San Francisco in July next year – the first time the conference will be in the Bay Area in nearly three decades.

The second milestone, the founding of the AIDS Research Institute in 1996, puts a focus on the UCSF’s continuing efforts to find a cure, and end HIV/AIDS once and for all.

They Were Really Us will be on view until September 2020: https://www.library.ucsf.edu/archives/lectures-exhibits/

Surviving and Thriving: A new exhibit at ZSFG

By Griffin Burgess

Announcing a new exhibit at ZSFG!

From January 28th to March 9th, the National Libraries of Medicine’s traveling exhibit, Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics, and Culture will be on display in the lobby of the main hospital (Building 25) at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

The exhibit is only available for six weeks, so be sure to visit as soon as you can!

From NLM:

The exhibition explores the rise of AIDS in the early 1980’s and the evolving response to the epidemic over the last 30 years.

The title Surviving and Thriving comes from a book written in 1987 by and for people with AIDS that insisted people could live with AIDS, not just die from it. Jennifer Brier, the exhibition curator, explains that “centering the experience of people with AIDS in the exhibition allows us to see how critical they were, and continue to be, in the political and medical fight against HIV/AIDS.”

 Protestors in front of the James A. Shannon Building, National  Institutes of Health, 1990  Courtesy Donna Binder
Protestors in front of the James A. Shannon Building, National Institutes of Health, 1990 Courtesy Donna Binder

Surviving and Thriving presents their stories alongside those of others involved in the national AIDS crisis. The six-banner traveling exhibition utilizes a variety of historic photographs as well as images of pamphlets and publications to illustrate how a group of people responded to, or failed to respond, to HIV/AIDS.

Robert C. Gallo, M.D. at the National Institutes of Health, early 1980’s . Courtesy National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
Robert C. Gallo, M.D. at the National Institutes of Health, early 1980’s. Courtesy National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

This exhibition was produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and curated by Jennifer Brier, PhD, University of Illinois.


Archives Month

October is American Archives Month, and UCSF Archives and Special Collections is celebrating with a number of events in the coming weeks to showcase our work as custodians of Health Sciences and UCSF History.

Wed October 3: #AskanArchivist Day

Join us and countless other repositories and Archival Institutions on Twitter using the hashtag #Askanarchivist

Pose your burning questions and curiosities about our collections, services and archives work in general.

Follow us on Twitter @ucsf_archives

 

Wed October 10:

ARCHIVES TALK: Medicine as Mission: Black Women Physicians’ Careers, 1864-1941

Join UCSF Archives & Special Collections as we explore the little-known history of African American women physicians’ careers in medicine from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. Through an extensive survey of the careers of all known African American women who practiced medicine in this period, a complicated portrait of both accomplishment and constraint emerges. This talk demonstrates that black women physicians succeeded in carrying out their demanding “missions” of attempting to address what we currently term “health disparities” in African American communities. Simultaneously, however, professionalized, scientific medicine in the twentieth century increasingly limited career opportunities available to black women physicians.

Speakers

Meg Vigil-Fowler, PhD is a historian of medicine who studies the intersecting histories of race, gender, and professionalization in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She received her PhD from UCSF’s Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine earlier this year and is currently writing a book on the earliest African American women physicians.

Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD is the Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach, charged with creating and maintaining a diverse university environment where everyone has an opportunity to excel. In her new role, Navarro will collaborate with faculty, staff and students to develop and carry out a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion at the campus – and in recruitment and retention of faculty, students, trainees and staff.

Aimee Medeiros, PhD is an Assistant Professor, History of Health Sciences at UCSF. Medeiros’s work focuses on the reciprocity between diagnoses, preventive care measures, and societal expectations of the body in medicine. Medeiros’s current projects include, Too Young to Die: The History of the Children’s Hospital in the U.S. and Health Sciences Data Laboratory (HSDL), which will complement Big Data efforts by generating historical medical data preserved from non-digital formats.

 

Saturday October 13: SF Archives Crawl

Join UCSF Archives & Special Collections, California Historical Society, San Francisco History Center, Society of California Pioneers, and Labor Archives and Research Center at San Francisco State University for San Francisco’s second Archives Crawl. The theme for the Archives Crawl is Immigration and Migration to California and we are celebrating in October, which is Archives Month!

Archives Crawl is designed to celebrate archives in the city and encourages guests to explore and engage with institutions that collect archival material. Visit institutions you may not have visited before, pose questions, learn more about what an archive is and what archivists do.

Find the UCSF Archives & Special Collections team at the SFPL Main Branch Library1pm – 5pm

More details visit the San Francisco Archives Crawl site.

 

Wed October 31

UCSF Archives Halloween Open House: Oddities of the Past

Get in the Halloween spirit and join UCSF Archives and Special Collections on October 31st and view selected pieces from the historical collections in the UCSF Library 5th Floor Reading Room. You will see “medical oddities” of the past including surgical kits, bloodletting tools and more!

Also make sure to drop by the Makers Lab Haunted House anytime from 10am-6pm.

 

Ongoing exhibit: Open Wide: 500 Years of Dentistry

 

 

 

 

 

Pairing Art with Artifact: The Development of Open Wide

This is a guest post by exhibit curator Sabrina Oliveros

Open Wide: 500 Years of Dentistry in Art, which formally opens on September 27 with a reception at the UCSF Library, features a wealth of artworks that depict how perspectives on dentistry, and dentistry itself, have changed over the centuries. The pieces range from satires and caricatures to religious prints and anatomical plates, and they come from artists as different and distinguished as George Cruikshank, Honoré-Victorin Daumier, Francisco de Goya, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, and Marc Chagall.

Remarkable as the art may be, they only comprise half the treasures – and tell part of the stories – in Open Wide.

For this exhibit to find its form, it needed to pair art with artifacts.

Which artifacts could go on display with which artworks? Early project research meant to answer this question.

Which artifacts could go on display with which artworks? Early project research meant to answer this question.

Gateways to learning

Many of the prints in Open Wide had been exhibited from 2003 to 2004 in a show of the same name at the University at Buffalo. When UCSF loaned the artworks from their owner, Dr. Morton G. Rivo, the goal was to expand on the original show using items from Archives & Special Collections. If an artwork illustrated a specific moment in the history of dentistry, the artifacts could elaborate on that moment, helping contextualize what the art showed and turn it into a touchpoint for learning more about the profession.

With some pieces, this task was rather straightforward. The etching Der Zahnzieher (c. 1631-35) by Jan Joris van Vliet (c. 1610 – after 1635), for example, shows a tooth-puller at work; on the wall behind him is a bleeding bowl. Bleeding bowls – which were used to catch drops of a patient’s blood during bloodletting procedures – are among the many historical objects in UCSF’s collections.

Displaying a bowl beside Der Zahnzieher not only added three-dimensionality to the print. It opened an opportunity to discuss why the bowl is in the image and what a tooth-puller used it for (bloodletting was once believed to relieve toothaches). Its presence in the print also suggests that the tooth-puller might have been a barber-surgeon, the kind of tradesman who would have certainly owned such a tool. What is a barber-surgeon and why is this distinction significant in dental practice? Questions and answers can go and on – indicating just how a single artifact can become a gateway into the history of dentistry.

Juxtapositions

The breadth of UCSF’s collections also allowed for other kinds of juxtaposition.

Take one case on the library’s third floor, which contains the print Easing the Toothach (sic). Created long before anything we now use as anesthesia, the image shows a patient who is in such pain that he pulls off his dentist’s wig during treatment. Antique vials of Novocain and an ether gas mask – forerunners of modern local anesthesia – surround the print. In contrast to the bleeding bowl display, the artifacts here expound on the development of dental practice by showing what is absent from the art, not what is visible in it.

Easing the Toothach (sic), by a follower of James Gillray (1757-1815), is the centerpiece of a display on pain management artifacts.

Easing the Toothach (sic), by a follower of James Gillray (1757-1815), is the centerpiece of a display on pain management artifacts.

Another piece on the third floor, the hand-colored engraving Tugging at Eye (High) Tooth (1821), helps showcase a different facet of UCSF’s collections.

 The colorful scene, set in a well-decorated dentist’s office, is by George Cruikshank (1792-1878), one of the most prolific artists during Britain’s golden age of caricature and satire. It shows a dentist furiously at work on a hapless patient, surrounded by his books, dentures, and instruments like teeth-scrapers, a mirror, and a mallet. This piece could have been displayed with similar tools in UCSF’s vaults, again lending three-dimensionality to the office Cruikshank depicts. But there was more to be mined from the print.

Cruikshank lined the dentist’s shelves with titles like Miseries of Human Life, Tales of Terror, and Frankenstein – a tongue-in-cheek suggestion of what the distressed patient is going through. Funny as these were, they raised a few questions: what kinds of books would (or should) have been on a professional dentist’s shelves? And which books shaped the practice so patients would become more comfortable in the chair?

Following this line of thought, the case thus features rare books from the 18th and 19th centuries that advanced knowledge about dentistry. They include the first modern textbook on oral surgery, the first work on orthodontics, and the book that introduced terms like molars and cuspids.

The final third-floor display entitled “The Dentist’s Bookshelf.”

The final third-floor display entitled “The Dentist’s Bookshelf.”

An appropriate addition

Beyond artifacts and rare books, Open Wide also exhibits selections from UCSF’s Japanese woodblock print and School of Dentistry photograph collections. Yet in a university library’s show about dental art and history, perhaps some of the most meaningful materials from the Archives are yearbooks from the school’s early decades.

The Chaff yearbooks displayed on the fifth floor were published from 1897 to 1909 by the junior class of the UC College of Dentistry. They include some truly eye-catching art: one illustration depicts a procedure as an intense sporting match, complete with a referee, spectators, and blow-by-blow commentary; another shows two patients atop a trophy or pedestal, looking like they barely survived a fight. (Its caption? “Patience on a Monument.”)

Such images proved interesting – and unthinkable not to put on exhibit – because they offer historical records of how dental students themselves viewed their profession. More than that, their perspectives surprisingly echo the wry and comical tone of many artworks loaned for Open Wide.

As far as pairing art and artifacts go, there couldn’t have been a more appropriate match than that.

"It is indeed a funny world, But hard truth mingles with the Chaff. It takes some study ere a man May know exactly when to laugh".

A verse from the 1900 volume of Chaff helps explain the spirit behind some yearbook art.

 

 

 

Open Wide Exhibit Opening Reception and Self-Guided Tours

What do a famous French dentist, Snow White, and a Victorian gentleman with a pesky toothache have in common? They are a few of the harassed, horrified, and often hilarious figures you can find in the exhibit Open Wide: 500 Years of Dentistry in Art.

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 27th, 12noon – 1pm, UCSF Library

REGISTER HERE

Join the UCSF Archives and Special Collections for the opening reception and self-guided tours exploring artworks from the collection of Dr. Morton G. Rivo, D.D.S., a former Chief of Periodontics at the UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion. These selections were first displayed in a 2003 exhibit of the same name at the University of Buffalo. UCSF’s iteration of Open Wide adapts materials from this earlier show and augments the artworks with artifacts, rare books, and UCSF School of Dentistry records from UCSF Archives. Together, they offer a glimpse into how perspectives on dentistry – and dentistry itself – have changed over the years. 

Open Wide will be on display on three floors (first, third, and fifth) of the UCSF Library at Parnassus through August 2019.

12pm Opening Remarks by Dr. Morton G. Rivo, D.D.S., former Chief of Periodontics at the UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion; Sabrina Oliveros, exhibit curator; and Sara Hughes, MA, EdD. Associate Dean of Education & Student Affairs, School of Dentistry

A French Dentist, Snow White, and a Victorian Gentleman: A Sneak Peek at Open Wide

Post by Sabrina Oliveros, Guest Curator for Open Wide: 500 Years of Dentistry in Art.

What do a famous French dentist, Snow White, and a Victorian gentleman with a pesky toothache have in common? They are a few of the harassed, horrified, and often hilarious figures you can find in Open Wide: 500 Years of Dentistry in Art, UCSF Archives & Special Collections’ new exhibit that will open to the public on August 1, 2018.

Developed around selections from the collection of Dr. Morton G. Rivo, D.D.S., former Chief of Periodontics at the UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion, Open Wide offers a glimpse into how perspectives on dentistry – and dentistry itself – have changed over the centuries. The artworks, supplemented by artifacts, rare books, and other materials from the UCSF Archives, will be on display on three floors of the UCSF Library.

You can find the artworks featuring the French dentist in the main lobby, Snow White on the first floor, and the Victorian gentleman on the fifth. Each speaks to a theme in Open Wide: developments in dental practices; symbolism and beliefs that have grown around the teeth; and, perhaps not the least, that all-too-familiar feeling of not wanting to go to the dentist.

The French Dentist

The French Dentist Shewing a Specimen of His Artificial Teeth and False Palates (1811) by Thomas Rowlandson.

If you’ve explored the UCSF Library or its social media recently, you might have already spotted the French dentist and his grinning patient in the exhibition poster, which is based on an 1811 etching, The French Dentist Shewing a Specimen of His Artificial Teeth and False Palates. The dentist of the title is Nicholas Dubois de Chémant, who was credited with the patents for the first porcelain teeth in Paris and London. The print pokes fun at a moment in history when these were all the rage among the upper classes, having been considered better than earlier ones of ivory and bone.

The French Dentist and his patient may seem very pleased with themselves, but the technology behind dentures still had to be perfected in the decades to come. You’ll find other samples of false teeth, developed through the first half of the 20th century, exhibited alongside this print.

The Toothache

An illustration from The Toothache (c. 1849) written by Horace Mayhew and illustrated by George Cruikshank.

Who would do anything not to go to the dentist? One Victorian gentleman, the protagonist of a comic strip published around 1849, certainly does. He even attempts to cauterize his own tooth with a red-hot poker and tries “240 infallible cures”– which include filling his mouth with cold water and sitting on the fireplace hob to let it boil – just to avoid a visit.

Discover whether his attempts at self-treatment amount to anything through panels that have been reproduced from the original illustrations. This Victorian gentleman’s adventures are complemented by similarly humorous cartoons from UCSF School of Dentistry yearbooks published in the 1900s.

Out Hunting for Teeth

A caza de dientes (Out Hunting for Teeth) from the series Return to Goya’s Caprichos (1999) by Enrique Chagoya.

Amidst all the amusing images in Open Wide, several prints strike a graver tone. These include three etchings depicting an 18th-century practice: pulling a hanged man’s teeth to use them for love potions. The earliest etching, by the Spanish master Francisco Goya, critiques this superstition; the second, by Salvador Dalí, mimics Goya’s and echoes some of Dalí’s sexual beliefs about teeth.

Snow White appears in the latest iteration of the scene, a commentary on Eurocentrism in art made by the Mexican-born American artist Enrique Chagoya. Here the Disney princess has replaced the young girl taking the corpse’s teeth in the original print, while another cartoon character, Rat Fink, has replaced the dead man. Superstitions about the teeth may no longer be the focal point of the piece, but it still has bite.

Goya and Dalí are not the only international luminaries represented in the show; Open Wide also features pieces by Marc Chagall, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, and Joan Miró. Aside from Chagoya, the exhibit also showcases other artists with connections to the San Francisco Bay Area, like Matt Phillips, Jeff Leedy, Art Hazelwood, and Dorothy Winslade.

Open Wide: 500 Years of Dentistry in Art will be on view until the summer of 2019.