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May 14, 2024 – October 12, 2024

The roots of modern medicine are based in the botanical and herbal practices of the past.

Before affordable doctors, people adopted a do-it-yourself attitude towards health and medicine. This tradition of self-help continued well into the twentieth century, even after doctors became more commonplace. Although some people turned to healing at home because of limited access, many people continued to rely on their own capabilities because of how deeply rooted these self-sufficient medical practices were.

This exhibition explores the tradition of healing at home in the United States and Europe, termed “domestic medicine,” through the creation and use of botanical remedies and herbalism. The items on display capture the range of this medical tradition across social class, economic ability, culture, and race.

By examining these practices, we can gain insight into the ways people have historically sought to maintain their health and well-being in the absence of formal medical institutions and connect this history to the contemporary rise of “natural” medicine and efforts to democratize medicine.

Colored illustration of a woman feeding a man with a cast.