In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

June 10, 2014

What’s in the Mayo attic?

By In the Loop

attic760An attic speaks to the imagination. It brings to mind hidden treasures covered in dust (or maybe sheets). History waiting to be shared. A storage space with soul. So when a friend of In the Loop suggested we do a story on “Mayo’s attic,” we didn’t need a whole lot of convincing.

But we learned a couple things about this attic. One, it’s in the basement. (Spirit flagging). Of the Plummer Building. (Perking up  a bit.) And two, the folks in the Mayo Historical Unit simply call it an “archive.” (Our “friend” was using a bit of poetic license, it turns out.) Still, the artifacts we found there do speak to the soul of the institution, even if the dust is studiously kept at bay.

The Historical Unit’s Karen Koka gave us a down-and-not-so-dirty tour, and showed off some of the hidden Mayo history that will be on display at this summer at open houses on June 12, July 10 and Aug. 14, during the Thursdays on First festivities in Rochester. (Get the details in this brochure.) Any time after 4 p.m. on said dates, just wander over to Annenberg plaza, where you’ll be greeted by volunteers in blue vests who will happily point you in the direction of history. There will also be artifacts on display in the Matthews Grand Lobby in the Mayo Building, and in the Historical Suite on Plummer 3. It will be a chance for some of Mayo’s rarely seen artifacts to get their day in the sun.

Our little peek into Mayo’s attic included a look at some of the papers of Mayo’s founders (Dr. Charlie’s, a little less well-organized than Dr. Will’s, we’re told), film and audio recordings made in the years before WWII (there’s even an audio recording of the ceremony where Dr. Will and Charlie were honored at Soldier’s Field by President Franklin Roosevelt), a scale model of the radial intensive care unit developed for Rochester Methodist Hospital in the 1950s (and now used worldwide), a kit for disaster simulations from the Mayo Clinic Disaster Office that includes atomic burn prostheses and a variety of facial masks (including one simply labeled “face in shock”), anatomical wax models used for education, and lots of historical medical and scientific equipment. And some historic bed pans. (We didn’t ask why they were historic.)

You can get an advance screening of select artifacts and hear the stories behind them straight from Karen Koka in a video below. And feel free to share your comments while you’re here, and (hint, hint) spread the word by sharing this story using the handy sharing tools atop the page.

Tags: Archives, Community, Historical Unit, History, Sesquicentennial

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