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December 15, 2005

Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents "Extraordinary Bodies: Photographs from the Mütter Museum"

January 30 - March 12, 2006

Media contact:
Tom Moore
Director of Arts & Culture

Note: You may download this release as a pdf file (1.2 Mb).

Joel-Peter Witkin: HarvestUMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents Extraordinary Bodies: Photographs from the Mütter Museum, on display from January 30 through March 12, 2006.

Photographers and medicine are no strangers. The visual representation of anatomy and pathology as viewed by the camera dates back to the advent of the daguerreotype, and early pathology was used by doctors and scientists to create anatomical atlases as well as document disease and trauma. Photographs also allowed physicians to keep exact visual records of cases long after patients died.

The historical bond between photographers and medicine carries forward to the present day with Extraordinary Bodies: Photographs from the Mütter Museum, the culmination of more than a decade of work that includes contemporary photography by Shelby Lee Adams, Max Aguilera-Hellweg, Gwen Akin & Allan Ludwig, Candace diCarlo, Dale Gunnoe, Steven Katzman, Mark Kessell, Scott Lindgren, Olivia Parker, Rosamond Purcell, Richard Ross, Ariel Ruiz i Altaba, Harvey Stein, Arne Svenson, William Wegman and Joel-Peter Witkin. For some of these photographers, the medical manipulation of the body—an act that amounts to the isolation of the part from the whole—becomes a visual metaphor for the human condition. Others experiment with the juxtaposition of real or artificial body parts and the public and private spaces of the Museum itself.

Extraordinary Bodies: Photographs from the Mütter Museum presents these works by current photographers alongside powerful images from the Mütter Museum’s renowned historical photography collection. The images in the exhibition extend the boundaries of traditional photographic subject matter, finding beauty not in conventional forms, but in internal marvels and in the enigma of those whose bodies—deformed, broken, and disfigured—have suffered physical abnormality, trauma or destructive disease.

Rosamond Purcell: Human Head Prepared by BatsonThe Mütter Museum, one of the last medical museums from the nineteenth century, comprises a sublime anatomical and pathological collection that originated with Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter, a professor of surgery who collected unique specimens and models for teaching purposes. Under the care of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, to which Dr. Mütter offered his collection in 1856, the Mütter Museum has grown and survived where most others did not; today a new audience has emerged to appreciate its collections.

Extraordinary Bodies: Photographs from the Mütter Museum offers a rare opportunity for people who have not experienced the medical student’s rite of passage and initiation into the singular mysteries of the profession to encounter powerful, inspiring, and enthralling images of nature’s challenges to human life.

The publication Mütter Museum (Blast Books, 2002) by Gretchen Worden, the late director of the Mütter Museum, accompanies the exhibition and will be available for sale.

On Tuesday, February 21 at 4:30 pm, the Library Gallery will host a lecture by Mark Alice Durant, professor of photography in the Department of Visual Arts at UMBC, who will discuss the photographers in the show, as well as other photographers whose work illustrates the continued fascination of the contemporary artist with the aesthetics of the human form. A reception will follow the lecture.

Olivia Parker: HeartGallery Information
The Albin O. Kuhn Gallery serves as one of the principal art galleries in the Baltimore region. Objects from the Special Collections Department, as well as art and artifacts from all over the world, are displayed in challenging and informative exhibitions for the University community and the public. Moreover, traveling exhibitions are occasionally presented, and the Gallery also sends some of its exhibits on tour to other institutions nationwide. Admission to the Gallery is free.

Extraordinary Bodies: Photographs from the Mütter Museum is curated by independent curator Laura Lindgren and is organized by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions (CATE), Los Angeles. Its presentation at UMBC has been supported in part from an arts program grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of Maryland and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Friends of the Library & Gallery. The reception for Extraordinary Bodies is sponsored by the Friends of the Library & Gallery and the Libby Kuhn Endowment.

Hours of Operation (please note the Gallery is now open on Sundays)
Sunday 1 pm - 5 pm
Monday 12 pm - 4:30 pm
Tuesday 12 pm - 4:30 pm
Wednesday 12 pm - 4:30 pm
Thursday 12 pm - 8 pm
Friday 12 pm - 4:30 pm
Saturday 1 pm - 5 pm

General Gallery information: 410-455-2270
UMBC Artsline (24 hour recorded message): 410-455-ARTS

UMBC Arts website:
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery:

UMBC is located approximately 10 minutes from downtown Baltimore and 20 minutes from I-495.
• From Baltimore and points north, proceed south on I-95 to exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
• From I-695, take Exit 12C (Wilkens Avenue) and continue one-half mile to the entrance of UMBC at the intersection of Wilkens Avenue and Hilltop Road. Turn left and follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
• From Washington and points south, proceed north on I-95 to Exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
Daytime metered visitor parking is available in the Walker Avenue Garage. Visitor parking regulations are enforced on all University calendar days. Campus map:

Images for Media
High resolution images for media are available online: or by email or postal mail.
Images in this release:
Joel-Peter Witkin, Harvest, 1984, silver gelatin print
Rosamond Purcell, Human Head Prepared by Batson, 2000, Iris print
Olivia Parker, Heart, 1994, Nash digital print
William Wegman, Kyphosified, 2000, c-print

William Wegman: Kyphosified


Posted by tmoore at December 15, 2005 3:33 PM