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Book and Media Reviews
April 4, 2012

The Art of Medicine: Over 2000 Years of Images and Imagination

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Anthropology, History & Social Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (porterd@dahsm.ucsf.edu).

JAMA. 2012;307(13):1437-1438. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.402

As renowned sculptor Anthony Gormley states in his lyrical foreword to this visually luxurious volume, although humans live inside and with the body, they need to constantly reimagine it so that it may be explored, dreamed, and felt in the human experience. As Gormley further points out, the image, artifact, and manuscript collections of Sir Henry Wellcome offer a time machine through which to observe the convergence of the forensic and the imaginative on an epic journey of human understanding of somatic life. In their introduction, Ken Arnold and Simon Chaplin state that by the time of Wellcome's death, his collections totaled more than a million pictures, books, and objects, rivaling the scale of some of Europe's most famous public museums. For Wellcome, his collections assisted in documenting an anthropology of the human condition by animating the concern with “the preservation of health and life . . . as . . . uppermost in the minds of living beings.”