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Military Medical Museum Celebrates 160th birthday with mobile app

Image of National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, Maryland, visitor uses the NMHM mobile app while looking at objects from the Innovations in Military Medicine Gallery. (National Museum of Health and Medicine photo by Ian Herbst). National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, Maryland, visitor uses the NMHM mobile app while looking at objects from the Innovations in Military Medicine Gallery. (National Museum of Health and Medicine photo by Ian Herbst)

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On May 21, 1862, Army Surgeon General William Hammond issued Circular No. 2: "As it is proposed to establish in Washington, an Army Medical Museum, Medical officers are directed diligently to collect…all specimens of morbid anatomy, surgical or medical…; together with projectiles and foreign bodies removed, and such other matters as may prove of interest in the study of military medicine or surgery."

From the development of the typhoid vaccine to the invention of the photomicrograph for the study of pathological specimens, the museum has been involved in the forefront of military medical research. Now, 160 years later, the Army Medical Museum is still collecting, researching, and informing on the study of military medicine as the National Museum of Health and Medicine.

As a repository detailing the history of military medical innovation and research, NMHM engages visitors with specimens and artifacts from the Civil War to modern-day combat support.

"Few of the nation's more than thirty thousand museums reach the century mark; fewer still have had the privilege of caring for a collection as remarkable as this for 160 years," museum director Adrianne Noe, Ph.D., said. "But this museum, even from its earliest days, was not one that focused exclusively on interpreting the past. Learning from it, of course; preserving it, always; but contributing it to the future of military medicine? That's something that we are uniquely well-positioned to do, and we look forward to accomplishing that for the visitors and researchers for many more years. We'll continue to do this with a dedicated professional staff and a cadre of generous and creative volunteers."

In honor of the museum's 160th birthday, NMHM will release a mobile app.

The museum experience has transformed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, compelling museums and other cultural institutions to adapt to the continually changing atmosphere in visitor engagement. One such change is the inclusion of a virtual environment. With the offering of virtual opportunities, to include events, tours, and exhibits, NMHM continues to engage visitors.

The app can be accessed on any mobile device and will provide viewers with additional content about the museum's collections.

For example, the fractured tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) from Civil War Union general, Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, and the type of cannonball that injured him are on display at the museum. The app will showcase supplementary imagery and link to articles and other resources to provide further context and enhance the visitor experience.

According to Andrea Schierkolk, museum public programs manager, "The mobile app will provide visitors with a more universal approach toward exploring the museum onsite or from remote locations. This hybrid approach will improve the visitor experience by making the museum's exhibits, collections, and programs more accessible to a wider audience. App users will be able to listen to stories, watch videos, and look at images that will allow them to explore innovations in military medicine from a variety of perspectives."

Plan your visit to NMHM today, and explore the app on May 21, 2022.

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