History of Art and Architecture

Jonas Salk Exhibit Makes Headlines

The Jonas Salk Legacy Exhibit, for which three museum studies students worked with Professor Alex Taylor and collaborators in the School of Public Health, has received widespread media coverage since its opening on April 28. The display uses newly acquired Salk collections to celebrate the impact of Salk and his team's development of a polio vaccine at the University of Pittsburgh in 1955.

Press coverage included a front-page story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that included a photograph of the exhibit's interactive display of Jonas Salk's desk and awards. Developing exhibit concepts like this was a major aspect of the work of three students from Museum Studies: Samantha Bonawitz, Maggie Shaheen, and Lily Heistand. Other media received for the display included television news stories on CBS and ABC, and radio coverage on NPR.

A story in Pittsburgh Magazine details the involvement of Museum Studies students in the exhibition's development. '[Distinguished University Professor Donald] Burke and a group of Pitt Public Health student assistants partnered with Alex Taylor, associate professor in the Department of History of Art & Architecture at Pitt, and a team of undergraduate museum studies students, to sort through the laboratory equipment to curate items of historical significance for display..."It was important to us that the exhibit do more than showcase equipment,” said Taylor. “We want the objects to help viewers imagine the urgency that propelled Salk’s lab in the 1950s. By placing the iron lung near the lab equipment, we recall the former Pittsburgh Municipal Hospital where vaccine development progressed on one floor while polio patients were treated with iron lungs on another.”'

Among several Pitt stories about the project, Pittwire has published a feature titled 'Students took a leading role in creating Pitt's new Jonas Salk exhibit which highlights the role of Museum Studies students in the development of the exhibition and another story that selects five highlight objects in the display.