To Your Health: Examining the History of Modern Medicine

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On April 22, 2016, the Brick Store Museum opened its newest exhibition, “To Your Health: Examining the History of Modern Medicine,” presented by York Hospital and co-sponsored by Southern Maine Health Care. Visitors to the exhibition can discover the fascinating history of how our bodies have experienced disease and treatment over 250 years, and how healthcare has changed over time.

What kinds of ailments and treatments have our bodies experience? What advances have benefited public health? How has healthcare changed in Kennebunk since the 1800s? These are some of the questions the staff at The Brick Store Museum posed as it researched the exhibition. Some of the answers are obvious due to inventions such as the x-ray machine, anesthesia, and medicines that can heal disease that two centuries ago would have led to an untimely death.  Some of these questions lead to controversy, such as the use of vaccines and the effectiveness of homeopathic medicine. 

Up until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, almost all healthcare in the United States took place at home, with domestic medical manuals found in nearly every literate household.  As recent as the mid-20th Century, Kennebunk had an effective version of what might be called socialized medicine in the form of the Kennebunk Health Association. Today, the debate is often heated over what form healthcare should take in this country. This exhibition takes a look at what has worked and what clearly has not in the past 200 years. 

Here’s a sneak peek of a story included in the exhibit: via Edwin Walker’s diary, in which he wrote about the deaths of his two daughters from tuberculosis within a year of each other in the 19th Century.

The exhibition will run through November. Interactives in the exhibition will have you pondering your family’s experiences with disease and survival. Visitors to the galleries are asked to share their own experiences, too.

Preview the exhibit online here:


This exhibition was made possible through the generous sponsorship of our presenting sponsor York Hospital as well as our co-sponsor Southern Maine Health Care