Boston Globe (January 31, 2012): A Museum for Man's Greatest Hospital

Publication Date: 
Tue, 01/31/2012

I love unexpected history, in unexpected places. For instance, I always regretted that Route 128 and Silicon Valley weren't more history-minded, until former Digital Equipment Corp. executive Gordon Bell addressed that problem. He and his wife, Gwen, birthed our Computer Museum, which morphed into the bigger-deal Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

In this vein, an interesting specialty museum is about to open in the heart of Boston:  The Paul S. Russell, MD, Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Russell is a history-minded former chief of surgery at MGH (Man's Greatest Hospital; somehow I don't think they'll devote a special exhibit to Dr. Stephen Bergman's blasphemous MGH parody, the gajillion-selling novel "The House of God") who assembled some affluent donors, such as Sumner Redstone, Nan and Bill Harris of WGBH studio fame, and a couple of Putnams to build the new museum. Dr. Harris, by the way, could have his own special exhibit; he is an inventor and an innovator in hip-replacement surgery.

The Russell is a handsome, four-story, copper-clad building erected on a postage-stamp lot on Cambridge Street, in front of the MGH's massive Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care. The museum was designed by Jane Weinzapfel of Leers Weinzapfel Associates, who also renovated Harvard's Hasty Pudding theater and built the new Dudley Square police station.

The Russell joins a fascinating universe of medical museums.