Exhibit: Extraordinary Women in Science and Medicine

Below, I’ve copied the press release for an exhibition that I suspect
will tempt many of us to go to New York this fall. I’ve had a chance
to look at some of Ronald Smeltzer’s collection, and it is truly
remarkable. Take him up on his offer of private walkarounds for small

Karen Reeds (with apologies for cross-posting)
Independent curator, museum consultant, historian of medicine
Princeton Research Forum, a community of independent scholars.

Press Release                                                                      Contact: Megan Smith
For immediate release                                                      msmith@grolierclub.org

Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of Achievement
At the Grolier Club
September 18 – November 23, 2013

The Grolier Club is pleased to present a landmark exhibition exploring
the legacy of thirty-two remarkable women whose extraordinary
scientific accomplishments in physics, chemistry, astronomy,
mathematics, computing, and medicine changed science. Extraordinary
Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of Achievement will
illuminate the often little-known careers and accomplishments of these
female scientists, examining their work and lives over four centuries.
More than 150 original artifacts, including books, manuscripts,
serials, authors’ separates, Ph.D. theses, and laboratory apparatus
(such as that used by Marie Curie during her earliest work on
radioactivity) will be on view, providing a remarkable overview of the
scientific contributions of this eminent group.
Included will be numerous items with special attributes and
provenance. Of particular interest will be Emilie Du Châtelet’s 1759
translation of Newton’s Principia with the bookplate of Talleyrand;
copies of all of her other scientific publications; a mathematics
workbook and a letter, both in her hand; and materials about her
fourteen-year relationship with Voltaire, including a book she
co-authored—although without her name on the title page. A scientific
breakthrough in genetics written on a brown paper bag is displayed.
The exhibition also serves to announce a falsely attributed first
edition due to a typesetters error in the seventeenth century and a
variety of other bibliographical discoveries.
Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of
Achievement highlights such luminaries of the physical sciences as
Marie and Irène Curie, Marietta Blau, Lise Meitner, Maria Goeppert
Mayer, C.-S. Wu, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, and Rosalind Franklin in
physics and chemistry. Astronomers  include Maria Cunitz, the most
advanced scholar in mathematical astronomy of the seventeenth century,
and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, whose Ph.D. thesis in 1925 was the
beginning of modern astrophysics. Among the mathematicians highlighted
are Sophie Germain, Sophie Kowalevski, Emmy Noether, Emilie Du
Châtelet, Maria Agnesi, and Florence Nightingale—for her work in
statistics. Grace Hopper, the creator of many fundamental concepts in
digital computing, is featured. Represented also are Laura Bassi,
Hertha Ayrton, Marie Meurdrac, Marie Thiroux d’Arconville, Elizabeth
Fulhame, and Ada, Countess of Lovelace.
Among medical scientists, the exhibition features Gerti Cori,
instrumental in unveiling the fundamental mechanism of metabolism;
Gertrude Elion, the first to design medicines effective in the cure of
cancer and viral diseases; Rosalyn Yalow, developer of the powerful
analytic tool, radioimmunoassay; and Florence Sabin, whose discoveries
form the basis for our current understanding of cellular immunity. Two
game-changers in medical science are Rita Levi-Montalcini, discoverer
of nerve growth factor, and Barbara McClintock who discovered that
genes are not fixed but move—the key paradigm shift in modern
genetics. Great and influential clinical physicians include Louise
Bourgeois Boursier, midwife to King Henry IV and Marie de Medici of
France; the pioneering pediatric neurologist Mary Putnam Jacobi; and
Helen Taussig, designer of the life-saving “blue baby” operation.
The exhibition is designed to pose questions about women’s
recognition—or lack thereof—in the sciences. Topics treated include
educational opportunities, role models, the use of social capital,
individual styles of doing science, and gender issues associated with
society norms of the periods. The viewer may consider such questions,
for example, as who deserved and who received Nobel Prize awards among
the modern women. The intention is to raise awareness about how
women’s roles have been limited in the development of the sciences.
The exhibition was organized by Curators Ronald K. Smeltzer, Ph.D.,
Paulette Rose, Ph.D., and Robert J. Ruben, M.D.,
LOCATION AND TIME:  Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four
Centuries of Achievement will be on view at the Grolier Club, 47 East
60th Street, New York, from Sept. 18 – Nov. 23, 2013. The exhibition
will be open to the public free of charge, Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m.
CATALOGUE: An illustrated catalogue in conjunction with the exhibition
will be available at the Grolier Club.

Thursday, October 3, 2013, 6:00 PM–7:30 PM: Collectors’ Forum.
Saturday, October 26, 2013, 12:00 PM–5:00 PM: Symposium.
October 16, 23 and 30, 2013, 1:00 PM–2:00 PM: Curator-hosted tours of
the exhibition.

For special visits with a curator as host, contact Ronald K. Smeltzer:


Published in: on June 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment