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October 23, 1987

Physicians Find That Medicine in Museums Mixes Equal Parts of Knowledge and Fun

JAMA. 1987;258(16):2188-2197. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400160034008

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FOUR MILLION PEOPLE each year surge through its art deco doors and enter a realm of near chaos. Teenagers roam the exhibit halls, sniggering when the reproductive system of the female anatomical mannequin lights up. Over the din of bells and buzzers, a father patiently tries to explain to his little girl the meaning of those squishy-looking things in the glass cubes (they're fetal specimens from conception through birth). Dozens of visitors queue up to walk through a bigger-than-life-size model of the human heart.

Welcome to the world of the contemporary science museum.

Physicians who think it hard to explain hypertension or diabetes to a patient at least have the advantage of a captive audience. On the other hand, it's unlikely they have an interactive computer game at their fingertips to demonstrate renal hemodynamics or the action of insulin.

For that, they might refer their patients to the local science