Yes, an exhibition about sexually transmitted diseases.
How…totally not romantic.
And yet, so interesting: the exhibition covers the struggles of advancing science and managing public opinion, showing how attitudes changed over time and how the public health problem has been portrayed over time. Visitors will learn about the Tuskegee Experiment, a trial that allowed subjects to suffer from advanced venereal disease, despite a known cure. It covers the AIDS era, too.
All this was covered in a profile of the museum by Bo Emerson that ran in Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
From Bo’s story, “CDC museum shows the beauty of science“:
Documenting the struggle against sexually transmitted diseases from the turn of the 20th century to the present, the new exhibit shows how scientists and policy-makers dealt with public attitudes while trying to solve what was one of the leading threats to American health.
From 1900-1940, one in 10 Americans was infected with syphilis. The disease killed 100,000 people a year and was the leading cause of childhood blindness. But most media preferred euphemisms such as “social hygiene” over straightforward discussion of infection. Dr. Thomas Parran, venereal disease specialist with the U.S. Public Health Service, was famously precluded from using the words “syphilis” and “gonorrhea” on a CBS radio interview in 1934.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never visited this museum, despite it being free, local and geeky — three of my favorite characteristics. Have you visited? What was it like?
Want to go? “VD: Values, Rights, Public Health” opens Feb. 16 and runs through May 28. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursdays. Closed federal holidays, and through Feb. 15 for exhibition installation. Free. (Vehicle search and government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license of passport, required for entry.) Global Health Odyssey Museum, Tom Harkin Global Communications Center, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta. 404-639-0830, www.cdc.gov/gcc/exhibit.