Kill or Cure? A Taste of Medicine

Kill or Cure? A Taste of Medicine

An immersive exhibition looking at how western medicine understood health, disease and treatments from the 15th century to the 19th century. 

Exhibition
Saturday 30 July 2022 to Sunday 22 January 2023
Admission: Free
Download the item listDownload the pamphlets

Location

Kill or Cure? A Taste of Medicine

From the influence of the stars and the phases of the moon, to healing chants and prayers, to the knife-wielding barber-surgeon and game-changing scientific experiments, Kill or Cure? takes you behind the curtain of western medicine’s macabre history.

Explore our many treatment rooms with instruments that will make your skin crawl. Hear quack doctors spruiking dangerous cures from behind the interactive walls. Meet the bloodletting man and learn why veins were opened to restore health. 

The Library’s extensive rare books collection reveals some of the powerful and enduring ideas from western medicine that have since been debunked, and those we take for granted today. 

How far would you go to feel better?

Margarita philosophica noua : cui insunt sequentia
1512
Gregor Reisch
Digital ID: 
n/a
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Systême anatomique
Systême anatomique
1792-1830
Hippolyte Cloquet
Digital ID: 
n/a
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Saunders physiognomie, and chiromancie
Saunders physiognomie, and chiromancie
1671
Richard Saunders
Digital ID: 
n/a
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Medical botany : containing systematic and general descriptions, with plates of all the medicinal plants, indigenous and exotic
Medical botany : containing systematic and general descriptions, with plates of all the medicinal plants, indigenous and exotic
1810
William Woodville
Digital ID: 
n/a
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Holloway's ointment dispensing pot
Holloway's ointment dispensing pot
c 1860
Digital ID: 
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Bloodletting man, Feldtbůch der Wund Artzney
Bloodletting man, Feldtbůch der Wund Artzney
1540
Hans Von Gersdorff
Digital ID: 
n/a
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Systême anatomique
Systême anatomique
1792-1830
Hippolyte Cloquet
Digital ID: 
n/a
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Exhibition Credits

Meet the curator

Elise Edmonds with open book

Elise Edmonds

Elise is a senior curator at the State Library of New South Wales. She has curated several exhibitions highlighting the Library’s nationally significant First World War collections; Life Interrupted: personal diaries from World War I in 2014, Colour in Darkness: images from the First World War in 2016 and Quick March! The Children of World War One in 2019. Her most recent exhibition, Dead Central – an immersive, audio experience, told the story of the Devonshire Street Cemetery, where Central Station now stands. She contributed to and narrated two podcast series, The Burial Files in 2019 and The Gatherings Order in 2020.
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