Thank you for your Patronage to our Hall of Honour Exhibits at Kingston General Hospital

Curatorial Assistant Erin Manning (L) and Collections Intern Tanya Szulga (R)
Curator’s Blog guest post written by Collections Intern Tanya Szulga:Over the past twenty years the Museum of Health Care has created exhibits for the Kingston General Hospital’s Hall of Honour. Recently KGH staff is working on a new redesign of this area and as part of that design process asked the museum to remove the exhibits for construction and carpet removal due to begin in July 2011.

To facilitate the dismantling of the four current exhibits, two museum studies students were engaged to lead the multi-faceted process of returning the items to the museum and loaned items, cleaning and preparing for storage all objects. Tanya Szulga, Collections Intern from Fleming College and Erin Manning, Collections Technician from Algonquin College were the perfect choice to ensure the safety and long term condition of the various items on exhibit.

Dismantling an on-site exhibit and the multiple stages of preparation and activity required for one exhibit is intense but this project involved four exhibits located off-site. Logistics and lots of preparation were required. The following provides a glimpse at what it takes to take down an exhibit following museum standards.

Dismantling the exhibits on display in the Kingston General Hospital’s Hall of Honour began weeks before the actual removal process commenced. Tanya Szulga prepared detailed exhibit artefact lists, storage location charts and supply lists to ensure that all objects would be properly transported back to the museum, had ‘homes’ in the storage areas to return to, and to ensure that the information on the database would be up-to-date and complete with pictures of all items by the end of the process. She also created a step-by-step guide to prepare for the removal process and make the days of dismantling as smooth and problem-free as possible.

Thursday, June 2nd 2011 was a perfect summer day with sunny weather forecast a great start to begin the dismantling and transportation of the first group of exhibits to be dismantled. Tanya and Erin began dismantling the “White Plaque: Fighting TB” and “Beyond Ether: Anesthesia” exhibits. The last exhibit “KGH Auxiliary” had the most quantity of items and was completed the next day.

Suction / Insufflation machine, MHC collection, 997016002

The process of opening the cases, safely removing the artefacts, and cleaning up the cases had its ups and downs. Erin and Tanya had planned ahead and prepared a concise process, but even the best laid plans can hit minor bumps along the way. Some artefacts had been on display for a long time and required very careful treatment while moving and transporting to the museum next door. The suction / insufflation machine in the anesthesia exhibit particular has c1930s rubber tubing that is extremely fragile. All the artefacts on display have been safely moved back to the museum and are currently “resting”. Objects that were loaned for the exhibit are currently being prepared for return to their rightful owners. Objects without photographs will be taken and added to the on-line database soon so the items you remember from this exhibit will be viewable through our website http://www.museumofhealthcare.ca/research-and-collections/.

Throughout the process the pair was constantly stopped by hospital staff and visitors wishing to express how pleased they were over the years to see the items on exhibit, and now saddened to hear the new exhibits will not be returning for a possible one to two years. They expressed hope that the Kingston General Hospital could decide on the redesign of the Hall of Honour soon and allow the Museum of Health Care staff to re-install new exhibits in the future. Tanya and Erin reminded all these people that while the Hall of Honour exhibits are now gone, the Museum, located next door to Kingston General Hospital is open Tuesday to Sunday starting 18 June from 10-4 pm, and the numerous exhibits on the main level at the museum show a variety of interesting aspects of medical history. We even have a large display on the history of nurse’s uniforms and a restored nursing residence bedroom. The new Children’s Gallery has a very colourful wall mural that everyone enjoys.

An era comes to a close with the removal of this group of four exhibits and museum staff eagerly wait for the nod from KGH staff that the new design of the exhibit cases meet museum standards and new medical history topics can be researched, items selected and installed for the viewing public.

Tanya Szulga, Collections Intern

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