By Michael Rice, IUPUI Museum Studies MA student
Interning at the Indiana Medical History Museum has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Being transported back to a different era every time I crossed the threshold was humbling. One of the tasks that comes with the internship is the opportunity to lead tours. This did not come naturally to me as I am happier working with the collections. It was nerve racking knowing that I would have to lead tours for visitors at the museum, but I learned to love and embrace the ability to share the important aspects and many little-known facts of the museum with the public. Of utmost importance to me, was to relay the information always with respect for the former patients of the Central State Hospital and in some cases, their remains. When we had to shut down the museum to visitors due to Covid, I began missing being able to greet the public and share what I had learned.
While the museum was closed, we were able to perform but the museum seemed too quiet. On the first day that we opened back up for tours, it felt like the museum was waking up from a long nap and eager to meet the visitors. Opening all the blinds and turning on all the lights gave life back to the building. It is incredible that this is not the first time the Old Pathology Building had gone through a pandemic, as it was in operation during the Spanish Flu in 1918. While this era of medicine seems so distant to some, I was always surprised how much has not changed, from the medical tools to the evidence of quackery that still exists today. I will not soon forget the stories and laughs that were shared while working there and giving the public a glimpse of a gem in the Indianapolis museum collection.