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"Ophthalmophantom and bullet-finder": insights into the unique collection of medical instruments at the Josephinum

(Vienna, 26th November 2013) The instrument collection in the Josephinum of the MedUni Vienna holds one of the most significant collections of medical instruments in the German-speaking area and contains around 2,500 items. It includes instruments from all parts of medicine, documenting the history of medicine since the beginning of the 18th century, in particular with reference to the exploration of the human body and the development of scientific diagnostic and treatment aids. This unique collection of instruments is the centrepiece of a new exhibition project in the Josephinum from 6 December 2013 to 3 May 2014 under the title "Augenphantom und Kugelsucher" ("Ophthalmophantom and Bullet-finder").

A core part of the collection is formed by the so-called "Instrumentarium Chirurgicum Viennense", which was developed by the first head of the "medical-surgical Joseph Academy", Giovanni Alessandro Brambilla, jointly with the Viennese instrument maker, Joseph Malliard, from the 1770s onwards. This involves instruments arranged in more than 30 leather boxes according to the treatments they were used for. These were employed in the education of trainee surgeons in the Josephinum and were templates for the manufacture of new instruments.

With this exhibition, the director of the Josephinum, Vice-Rector Christiane Druml, would like to place "the historical instruments at the centre of attention for the first time, presenting their uniqueness and beauty to the public in an appropriate setting, inviting the objects, which primarily serve the exploration of the human body, to be viewed in a different light." Simon Weber-Unger, an internationally recognised expert in scientific instruments, was invited to make the selection from the full inventory of the instrument collection. Weber-Unger is curating the current exhibition jointly with Moritz Stipsicz, who is in overall charge of realising the realignment of the collections.

A new work by the Austrian artist Tillman Kaiser can be seen as part of the exhibition. It makes direct reference to the instrument collection at the Josephinum. It has been created from a series of photograms of objects in the collection itself. This artistic intervention is at the same time the start of a series of collaborations planned with contemporary artists at the Josephinum under the title "Chiasmata" - crossovers between different disciplines. The newly founded Association of the Friends of the Josephinum will also be introduced within the context of the opening.

Info: Insights into the medical instrument exhibition in the Josephinum Ophthalmophantom and Bullet-finder. Exhibition from 6.12. 2013 to 3.5.2014 at the Josephinum, Währinger Strasse 25, 1090 Vienna, opening times Friday and Staurday, 10.00 a.m - 6.00 p.m. Entry: 4 EUR or 2 EUR (concessions).