Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Women of Art and Medicine at RCPI explores the physicians, painters, and patients

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) has opened the doors of No. 6 Kildare Street this Heritage Week, (August 14 – 18), for a special exhibition, Changing Perceptions: Women of Art and Medicine at RCPI.

The exhibition, open to the public from 10am to 4pm, brings the artworks of and by women to prominence, demonstrating the changing role of women in medicine and art.

It is a unique opportunity to explore the historic home of the RCPI at No. 6 Kildare Street, the only accredited medical museum in Ireland. A new self-guided tour will take participants around the building to learn more about the women represented in the artworks as physicians, painters, and patients.

Ms Harriet Wheelock, Keeper of Collections at RCPI and curator of the exhibition, says it is not surprising that most of the artworks in the College’s collection are of and by men.

“This exhibition is an important correction and demonstrates the changing role of women in our history and in the sphere of medicine and artistic practice,” Ms Wheelock explained.

“What is so valuable about our collection is the story each piece tells. Our nineteenth century medical illustrations, for example, document diseases and conditions reflective of era, class and gender. In many cases the sketch of the patient is the only record of that person’s life.”

A portrait of Dr Kathleen Lynn, Chief Medical Officer for the Irish Citizen Army during the 1916 rising

Featured portraits include Dr Kathleen Lynn, whose diaries – which she started to document her role as Chief Medical Officer for the Irish Citizen Army during the 1916 Rising – are also housed in RCPI; Professor Mary Horgan, the first female President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland; and Laura Brennan, patient advocate and health campaigner.

Art Historian Dr Kathryn Milligan also will lead a guided tour of the art collection as part of the Heritage Week. Dr Milligan is an art historian specialising in nineteenth and twentieth century Irish Art.

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