• By Laurel Kelly

#FlashbackFriday 1970: Mayo Medical Museum

May 27, 2016

the new exhibit “The Vital Process of Breathing,” installed in the Mayo Medical Museum, created by the Section of Medical IllustrationThis article first appeared March 20, 1970, in the publication Mayovox.

A Japanese sculptor, exhibiting his works in an American gallery, astonished the curator by placing by each piece of art a small sign which read, “Please touch!”

Mayo Medical Museum’s health education director, Dale Shaffer, is a proponent of the same philosophy. A museum, he believes, should involve a visitor in some way—let him hold something in his hand, touch a model, press a button.

A new exhibit at the Museum, “The Vital Process of Breathing” demonstrates this dynamic approach. The exhibit is free standing so that a viewer’s minimal involvement is to walk around it. Light flowing through an outline drawing presents a simplified version of inhalation by which oxygen is supplied to the cells, and exhalation by which carbon dioxide, a product of metabolism, passes into the atmosphere.

The viewer pushes a button to activate a film of animated anatomical drawings which demonstrate the mechanism of breathing. Commentary, synchronized to the drawings, explains the process.

The curved lines of the exhibit’s construction conform to sequential flow of drawings, models and text which demonstrate how oxygen passes into the lungs, through the blood and into the cells. Models mounted on the face of the exhibit are of durable materials (you can touch them without damage).

The Museum offers more than exhibits to its visitors. For the past several years Paul Kelly, Lourdes High School instructor, has brought members of his ninth grade health class to the Museum for three programs presented by Shaffer. The photographs below show some of this group at their second session when the subject was the brain and spinal cord.

Possessed of the most important quality of a teacher—he enjoys teaching—Shaffer regards requests for such programs as opportunity to contribute to the Mayo commitment to medical education. It’s not too improbable to speculate that in any such group there’s a future neurosurgeon getting his first lesson in neuroanatomy.

students interacting with displays in the Mayo Medical Museum