Temporary exhibition

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Contagious!

Contagious! is a new exhibition on the outbreaks of contagious diseases and their ruinous effects on people’s lives. The exhibition also considers the outbreak of the new coronavirus and ties in with
the national debate on vaccinations.

“While this exhibition has been scheduled for some time, it has become even more acutely relevant than we could have imagined. Outbreaks of contagious diseases have always been and still are a
lurking danger. We hope the exhibition and the thought-provoking supporting programme will help the widest possible audience discover the importance of science for our lives today,” says museum director Amito Haarhuis.

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This informative exhibition presents an intriguing balance between health and realistic risks and between social exclusion and compassion. How did people confront epidemics such as the plague
and smallpox in the past? What insights do epidemics of the past have to offer for the future? What solutions does science have to offer?

Visualising contagious diseases

The exhibition includes both scientific objects and art works. Plague Dress is one of the contemporary art objects on display. This magnificent dress in 17th-century style is made of raw silk
and has been hand-coloured with pigments from walnut husks. In earlier times it was believed that walnuts were able to cure the plague. The dress is adorned with 17th-century embroidery which has been impregnated with the DNA of plague bacteria. Art, science and the fear of contagious diseases coincide in this work of art. The exhibition also features impressive historical medical moulages used for educational purposes, which reflect the seriousness of contagious diseases.

Opens July 16 2020. Through January 9 2022.

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