Students and staff held aloft their swords and dueled during the “Arms, Armor, and Battle Medicine Pop Up” exhibit, held by the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine (WHL), the Oakeshott Institute, and the Center for Premodern Studies. The exhibit displayed centuries-old medieval swords and cutlery, books on military surgery, and more.
“Swords in the library? What more could you want?” said Emily Beck, assistant curator of the Wangensteen Historical Library.
The antique swords came from the Oakeshott Institute, a non-profit organization that has over 75 artifacts in its collection, spanning nearly 4,000 years of history. A few original and replica swords and cutlery were displayed, courtesy of the Oakeshott.
“Pop ups provide a high-impact interactive experience, and meet increasing demand for diverse exhibition themes, types of exhibitions, and forms of presentation.”
—Lois Hendrickson, curator of the Wangensteen Historical Library.
Staff presented materials from the Andersen Rare Book Collection and the Wangensteen Historical Library about battle medicine (e.g. how to heal wounds caused by swords), as well as recipe books, including some “magical recipes,” like a salve for weapons that would supposedly cure wounds caused by that weapon.
WHL also showed a series of public health posters about a measles outbreak in mid-19th century Japan. These posters used famous kabuki actors and mythological figures to teach people about hygiene and wellness. Some posters depicted battle scenes between different kinds of food to illustrate a healthy vs. unhealthy diet.
The pop-up exhibit was mostly attended by undergraduates taking medieval studies classes or other programs at the Center for Premodern Studies. But some hallway stragglers wandered inside to wield the swords.
“We did convince some people to come in and look around. It’s hard to resist people demonstrating swords,” Beck said.
These pop-up exhibits help WHL build relationships with faculty and students across campus, as well as forge new connections with organizations off campus, said Lois Hendrickson, the WHL curator.
“Pop ups provide a high-impact interactive experience, and meet increasing demand for diverse exhibition themes, types of exhibitions, and forms of presentation,” Hendrickson said.