Yale’s Cushing Medical Library exhibits human monstrosities, prodigies, and marvels

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From early modern marvels to sideshow performers, the abnormal body has provoked wonder and fascination, even as it has inspired the scientific study of monsters. A new exhibition at the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library — “Teratology: The Science and History of Human Monstrosity” — explores the history of the science of human monstrosity, from early modern accounts of human-animal hybrids to present-day explorations of birth defects. On view Jan. 22–May 15 are more than 30 books, prints, and broadsides that trace the different approaches to human monstrosity since the 15th century, demonstrating the ways in which "monsters" have been described, classified, and displayed to the public. A concurrent installation, “Prodigies and Marvels,” will be in the main hallway of the library. The exhibit focuses on individuals who evoked a sense of wonder and were well known to contemporary audiences through broadsides and prints. A selection of approximately 16 works from the library’s extensive, and seldom seen, collection on this subject introduces a few of these individuals from the 16th through the early 19th centuries. The exhibitions have been organized to complement "Side Show" at the Yale School of Art's 32 Edgewood Avenue Gallery. All shows are free and open to the public. The Cushing Library, located at 333 Cedar Street, is open Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. to midnight, Friday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 9:30 a.m. to midnight. "Side Show" is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.

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