Oplomoclion: word difficult to pronounce and perhaps even to understand. Yet it is an object that is part of the history of medicine and science. So at least the creator explains, Girolamo Fabrizi d’Acquapendente, anatomist, in his Pentateuchos chirurgicum from 1592. Curious, right?
In a difficult period like ours, in which science has played a leading role, the Ministry of Culture and Novartis Italia have decided to create the Digital Museum of the history of the scientific method in medicine. What is it about? The story of the evolution of the scientific method through ancient sculptures, artifacts, paintings, works. An immersion in the past made with the most modern method, a digital platform; an innovative path that accompanies the virtual visitor to the discovery of science, showing the tools used, beliefs and challenges faced over the centuries. A history as long as man is that of science, which must be valued and known above all by young people, to bring them closer to its magic and its concreteness.
Then, theoplomoclion is a very advanced orthopedic instrument, conceived by the anatomist Girolamo Fabricius in the sixteenth century, a sort of corset for the correction of deformities of the spine and limbs, but also a didactic device, made up of prostheses mounted one on top of the other. It is one of the objects on virtual display in the first room of Mudimed open to the public, which exhibits 19 works from the most important museums and libraries in the country: from the National Archaeological Museum of Naples to the Museum of the History of Medicine of La Sapienza, from the Museum and the Real Bosco di Capodimonte at the National Central Library of Rome.
Visitors can admire the ex vote of the Italic and Roman world that reproduce the part of the body for which the patient asked for divine intervention, very similar to ours ‘by grace received’, and then again rudimentary scalpels to incise superficial veins, surgical suckers, late medieval medical texts , portable pharmacy kits and so on.
But in this integration of medicine, arts, history, of events made by men and women, the visitor is not alone. Explanations and stories on the finds and testimonies are entrusted to experts who tackle the issue from several points of view. Arnaldo Colasanti, academic and scientific popularizer, talks about magical-religious medicine; Andrea Grignolio, historian of medicine and professor at the University of Vita San Raffaele and the CNR, he deals with the modalities of intervention on the sick already in ancient times; Barbara Gallavotti, academic, biologist and science popularizer, focuses on the ‘visions of suffering’, Paolo Mazzarello writer, essayist and professor at the University of Pavia, he illustrates a fundamental aspect of the history of medicine: anatomical dissection. In the end, Guido Silvestri, an academic, pathologist and immunologist at Emory University in Atlanta, talks about the advances of pharmacology in the modern age and propels us into the future of medicine.
Mudimed fits into the path Science to live, promoted by Novartis Italia, to strengthen the dialogue between culture, science and society. The layout and contents of the museum have been curated by a scientific committee coordinated by Giuliano Volpe, full professor at the Department of Humanities of the University of Bari, who will continue to supervise over the years the learning path, the opening of new exhibition spaces, also suggested by the users of the virtual museum.
Mudimed is a digital space that offers the opportunity to discover the cultural and social contexts in which science was born, developed and continues to evolve.