From ancient Egypt to the present day, throughout the history of art, neurological disorders have played a role. Directly or indirectly, neuropathology has been captured in paint and stone, and visualized in books and photographs. Certain artists depicted the effects of neurological disorders directly, while for others, their own neurological conditions impacted the art they produced. Some artists attempted to record ailments with scientific accuracy, whereas others were more concerned with artistic expression than medical precision.
This exhibition illustrates a wide range of neurological disorders—through paintings, sculptural reliefs, prints, photographs, and the written word—spanning over three thousand years. Works are categorized by the affected part of the nervous system: the brain, the spinal cord, the neuromuscular system. Through the works of art displayed here, we explore how neurological disorders were understood (or misunderstood) over the centuries and across the western world. Whether a relief sculpture of an ancient Egyptian priest, or an iconic fresco by Michelangelo, or letters written by President John Adams, each piece illustrates a different disorder and brings to life one aspect of the history of neurology.
Exhibition directed by David Thaler, MD, PhD, Chairman, Department of Neurology
Exhibition curated by Bryn Schockmel, MA, doctoral candidate, Boston University
Exhibition supported by Tufts Medical Center, Department of Neurology