The Nightingale's Song: Nurses and Nursing in the Ars Medica Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, an informative look at the fascinating history and varied facets of the nursing profession, will be on view in the Berman Gallery of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from August 26 to October 29, 2000. Drawn entirely from the Museum's remarkable Ars Medica Collection, the 80 prints, drawings, and photographs in the show span six centuries and four continents: from late-15th-century Europe (the treatment of a German plague victim) to mid-19th-century Asia (Florence Nightingale's military hospital in Turkey during the Crimean War) to 20th-century Africa (a Red Cross tent in Zaire the 1920s) and the United States (the back-road rounds of Maude Callen, an African American mid-wife in North Carolina in the 1950s). The messages conveyed by the works on view are equally broad, ranging from the inspiring or cautionary to the satirical, the charming, and the downright funny.
The Nightingale's Song is third in a recent series of topical exhibitions of works on paper selected from the Museum's Ars Medica Collection by William H. Helfand, a noted authority on the history of art and medicine, and author of the fully-illustrated catalogues that accompany the series. Mr. Helfand organized the exhibition with John Ittmann, Curator of Prints in the Museum's Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. Funding for the publication accompanying The Nightingale's Song was made possible by Bayada Nurses in association with the Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
Comprised of over 2,500 prints, drawings, photographs and rare books housed in the Museum's Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, the Ars Medica Collection offers a remarkable view of the complex interrelationships between the worlds of medicine, pharmacy, public health and the visual arts. The Ars Medica Collection was developed with the support of a series of grants from the Philadelphia pharmaceutical firm SmithKline Beecham and others, and also includes an important group of prints, posters and ephemera given by Mr. Helfand.