Celebrating 10 years and many more ...
It was a beautiful summer day on June 20, 1996, when Michigan pediatric dentist Dr. Samuel D. Harris - surrounded by representatives of local, state, and national government and esteemed leaders in the dental community - snipped the white cord representing dental floss, to open the museum that bears his name. Since that day, thousands of visitors from around the world have flocked to The Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry’s exhibitions - onsite at its permanent location in Baltimore, online through interactive Web programs and across the country to museums that present NMD traveling exhibitions.
Whether they’ve visited frequently throughout the first decade or are being introduced to NMD for the first time through this article, visitors who experience the National Museum of Dentistry’s events, programs, and exhibitions continue to make exciting discoveries about the fascinating heritage of the dental profession, the achievements of dental professionals, and the importance of oral health in a healthy life. Here are a few highlights for you to learn about NMD:
• The National Museum of Dentistry is renowned for its extensive collection of dental-related treasures. The permanent exhibition, 32 Terrific Teeth, includes objects of interest such as George Washington’s denture, a life-sized statue of famed circus performer Penny Wilson presenting her “iron jaw” act, four Andy Warhol prints of the patron saint of dentistry, Saint Apollonia, Queen Victoria’s dental instruments, and the world’s only Tooth Jukebox, which plays vintage dental commercials. NMD recently acquired a master print of the only known photograph of Dr. John Henry “Doc” Holliday practicing dentistry and one of the three Medals of Honor presented to military dentists. Both objects will be on exhibit at the museum in the coming months.
NMD presents a full schedule of changing exhibitions that showcase topics of interest in dentistry and encourage repeat visitors. The exhibitions have included: A New Role Model: Women in Dentistry; Terrific Tooth Tales (an exploration of children’s dental literature); Out of the Horse’s Mouth: Veterinary Dentistry; and Watch Your Mouth: Sports in Dentistry.
• Saliva: A Remarkable Fluid opened in March 2005 as the first part of Your Spitting Image, a three-part exhibition that explores the connection between the Human Genome Project and the field of dentistry. Targeted to teens and young adults, this exhibition uses computer programs, video displays, and interactive stations to engage new audiences for the museum. Your Spitting Image will be completed by Forensics: Solving Mysteries, opening in June 2006, and Bioengineering: Making a New You.
• In recent years, the National Museum of Dentistry has expanded its audience, developing and presenting traveling exhibitions across the country. These interactive exhibitions have educated children and adults alike and provided local dental professionals with new opportunities to engage youth in their communities.
In 2002, NMD launched its first traveling exhibition: Branches, Bristles, and Batteries: Toothbrushes Through Time, at the Children’s Museum of New Orleans. During its first three-year tour, the exhibition was on display at nine children’s museums and science centers in eight states. More than two million visitors had the opportunity to “brush up” on the terrific truths about toothbrushes while learning valuable lessons about oral health. Using hands-on activities and engaging learning stations, Branches, Bristles, and Batteries makes a lasting impression about the vital importance of oral health in a healthy life. The exhibition has earned praise from dental professionals and museum staff around the country for its innovative approach to oral health education.
A second North American tour of Branches, Bristles, and Batteries begins in February 2006 at the Manitoba Children’s Museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Members of the dental community now have the opportunity to encourage museums in their hometowns to bring Branches, Bristles, and Batteries to their communities. Additional tour dates are still being scheduled for this exciting exhibition through 2008. More information can be found at NMD’s Web site (www.dentalmuseum.org), or by calling the museum staff at (410) 706-0600. The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the United Concordia Companies, Inc.
In July 2004, NMD launched The Future is Now! African Americans in Dentistry in Los Angeles during the National Dental Association’s Annual Meeting. The exhibition, presented through moving memoirs and dramatic stories of individual and collective achievement, pays tribute to the remarkable men and women who paved the way for African Americans’ success in dentistry. Based on the writings of eminent dental historian Clifton O. Dummett, DDS, the exhibition also serves to encourage young people to consider dentistry as a career choice.
In addition to Los Angeles, The Future is Now! African Americans in Dentistry has been on exhibit in Cleveland and Detroit. It is scheduled to visit the ADA headquarters in Chicago, the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and the African American Museum of Philadelphia over the next year. The national tour continues through 2007, with tour dates still available. This exhibition is presented in partnership with the National Dental Association.
• Since 1997, NMD has offered continuing education opportunities for dental professionals through the annual Dr. Jack W. Gottschalk Distinguished Lecture. Some of the profession’s most distinguished personalities, including Drs. Linda Niessen, Robert Genco, and Clifton O. Dummett have delivered lectures on varied topics in the field of dentistry. The next Dr. Jack W. Gottschalk Distinguished Lecture will be presented by Dr. Hal Slavkin on June 23, 2006, and will tie in with NMD’s Saliva: A Remarkable Fluid exhibition. Immediately following the presentation, the museum will host a wine tasting, which will give Dr. Slavkin the opportunity to help participants understand the role various parts of the oral cavity play in the enjoyment of wine.
• Now in its fifth year, MouthPower®, NMD’s unique oral health education program, has helped thousands of children discover the power of a healthy smile. The program is offered regularly at NMD to Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts. In 2004, MouthPower Online (www.mouthpower.org) made its debut at the 145th American Dental Association annual session and was rapidly embraced by visitors from around the world. Presented in partnership with Colgate-Palmolive and the American Dental Association, MouthPower is currently being tested in select states as a traveling oral health education program with a possible national launch in 2006. A MouthPower traveling exhibition is also in development for 2007.
• The National Museum of Dentistry has enjoyed an increasing national and international profile. In 2003, the 108th Congress designated NMD the nation’s official museum of dentistry. The National Museum of Dentistry is also an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and participates in programs and opportunities offered through this partnership. In October 2005, the museum celebrated the completion of the Wall of States, which represents support for the museum from every state dental association and the D.C. Dental Association, totaling more than 135,000 individual dentists.
Many visitors, discovering a new sense of pride in dentistry, become active members of the museum community, supporting the NMD as advisors, members, and volunteers. The museum’s community of advisors - the Board of Visitors, National Advisory Committee, Marketing Advisory Council, and Collections and Exhibitions Committee - represent dentistry’s leaders on the corporate, national, state, and local levels. In recent years, the museum has welcomed dental professionals beyond United States borders to its advisory community, giving the museum an increased presence on the international stage.
The year-long 10th Anniversary Celebration continues through June 2006. The celebration will give visitors across the country and around the world an opportunity to discover or rediscover the National Museum of Dentistry. The next time you’re in Baltimore, visit NMD to see the permanent exhibition and new changing exhibitions.
Around the country, experience the traveling exhibitions as they tour to locations near you, or bring a traveling exhibition to your hometown. Around the world, share the power of a healthy smile with children in your community through MouthPower.
The 10th Anniversary Celebration culminates in the Gala Celebration Weekend, which will be June 23-24 in Baltimore.
For a full schedule of special anniversary events, programs, and traveling exhibitions, please call the National Museum of Dentistry at (410) 706-0600 or visit www.dentalmuseum.org.
Julia Filz is the director of communications for The Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the National Museum of Dentistry is a lively center where visitors discover the importance of a healthy smile and are fascinated by the rich history of dentistry. Filz may be reached at (410) 706-0052, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the National Museum of Dentistry online at www.dentalmuseum.org.