Museum of Health Care marks moment in time with COVID-19 update

Kingston, ON-   The Museum of Health Care at Kingston has updated its popular Vaccines and Immunization gallery to reflect the latest innovations in vaccination technology.

Vaccines and Immunization: Epidemics, Prevention, and Canadian Innovation was first installed in 2013. Developed with Guest Curator Dr. Christopher Rutty, and funded in part by the Kingston and United Way Community Fund, the Coalition of Canadian Healthcare Museums and Archives, and Sanofi Pasteur, the exhibit uses case studies of diseases that saw significant decreases in the twentieth century because of immunization – smallpox, diphtheria, polio, and whooping cough – to identify the cost of epidemics to society and explore the search for adequate treatment and preventative measures, such as vaccines.

The update, funded by Takeda Pharmaceuticals and curated by Rowena McGowan, consists of a new panel and associated artifacts covering the technology and history behind the rise of mRNA vaccines, popularized for their use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Vaccination is always relevant and the gallery tells that story really well already,” said Curator Rowena McGowan on the new panel. “But after the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, it no longer fully addressed the interests and needs of our visitors. This new panel closes that gap. The development of mRNA vaccines is also just a neat and surprisingly long journey and it’s exciting that we can now tell that story as well.”

To celebrate the gallery update, the Museum invites visitors to come and get vaccin[educat]ed on Saturday, December 3, from 5:00 PM  – 8:00 PM. Visitors will travel through the history of immunization, from the very first vaccine in 1796 all the way to the present and even into what the future might hold. As they explore, they will complete different tasks in order to fill out their vaccination passport. Once they have been “vaccinated” against smallpox, Spanish Flu (H1N1), COVID-19, malaria, and cancer, they will be entered to win a themed prize basket. Every participant will receive a free gift.

The event is by donation and preregistration is not required. Masking is still mandatory inside the museum. The new panel is in a permanent gallery and can be seen any time the museum is open.

The Museum wishes to thank Takeda Pharmaceuticals for sponsoring the update and Drs. Mathieu Crupei, Eli Gilboa, Ian MacLachlan, Ying Tam, and Drew Weissman for graciously allowing themselves to be interviewed for background research.

Event Details:

Location: Museum of Health Care (32 George Street)

Date: December 3, 2022

Time: Drop in any time between 5:00 PM and 8:00 PM

Cost: Admission by donation

No preregistration required. Masking is still mandatory inside the museum.