FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNPACKED: SUITCASES, BRIEFCASES AND BAGS FROM HENNEPIN COUNTY HOSPITALS
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (April 14, 2015) As part of its new Our Hennepin County initiative, Hennepin History Museum (HHM) presents Unpacked: Suitcases, Briefcases, and Bags from Hennepin County Hospitals. Guest curated by the Hennepin Medical History Center at the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), the exhibition tells the story of the patients, nurses, doctors, and staff members at local hospitals through 20 highly personalized suitcases and their contents. Unpacked will be on view April 18 through October 25, 2015; a preview party is scheduled for Friday, April 17, from 5 to 8 pm.
Unpacked brings new meaning to the term trunk show, says Hennepin History Museum executive director Cedar Imboden Phillips. Each suitcase tells the story of its owner, giving us a private peek into the lives and experiences of Hennepin County residents who had their lives touched by local medicine. Reflecting the diversity of experiences found in every hospital, whether contemporary or historic, the twenty selected stories feature everyone from a young Swedish nursing student, patients of all ages and backgrounds, hospital administrators, doctors, and others whose lives were impacted by their time at Hennepin County Medical Center and its predecessors.
The choice of suitcases and bags as the unifying theme throughout the exhibition is designed to transcend time and humanize history for todays audiences. The central theme of the exhibition is connecting visitors with the past through objects commonly used today, says Hennepin Medical History Center curator Katie Baker. While the suitcases and bags and most of the contents themselves letters, packing lists, sewing kits, hospital bills will remain familiar, the specifics will remind visitors that life in Hennepin County has changed dramatically over the year. No longer do we fear the ravages of polio, for example; a story told by the suitcase of one young pediatric polio patient. Medical advances continue to save lives, while new threats emerge. Through it all, many human emotions remain the same, and hospitals experience it all: hope, fear, optimism. The stories of our hospitals are truly the story of a community, and Unpacked offers an unparalleled view into Hennepin County of the past.
As part of the educational programming associated with this exhibition, longtime Hennepin Medical History Center volunteer and retired nurse Carol Oeltjenbruns will present Sister Kenny and the Polio Epidemic at Hennepin History Museum on Sunday, July 12, at 2 pm. This program is included free with museum admission, and will chronicle Sister Kennys time in the Twin Cities and her work at Minneapolis General Hospital.
Unpacked: Suitcases, Briefcases, and Bags from Hennepin County Hospitals is the second exhibition in the museums new Our Hennepin County gallery. The gallery is dedicated to showcasing the work of Hennepin Countys extensive and diverse array of historical organizations and groups.
ABOUT HENNEPIN MEDICAL HISTORY CENTER
Hennepin Medical History Center at Hennepin County Medical Center is the premier medical history museum celebrating the history of medicine and medical education in Minneapolis.
ABOUT HENNEPIN HISTORY MUSEUM
Hennepin History Museum (HHM) is the historical society for Hennepin County. Founded in 1938 as part of the WPA program, HHM and its extensive archival, art, and objects collections have been housed in the historic Christian Mansion since 1958.
Admission: $5 for adults, $1 for seniors and students. Admission is free the first Thursday of the month.
Hours: Open Tuesdays 10 am to 2 pm, Wednesday 1 pm to 5 pm, Thursdays 1 pm to 8 pm, and Fridays through Sundays 1 pm to 5 pm.
Photos: Minneapolis General Hospital, 1916, courtesy Hennepin Medical History Center; Unpacked exhibition view, courtesy Hennepin History Museum.