New museum showcases history and pioneers of radiology

Interactive touch screens? Replica costumes? Hundreds of vintage artifacts? The American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) appears to have taken the concept of having fun at the office to a whole other level.

The ASRT Museum and Archives, a 4,500-square-foot museum full of fun exhibits and historical pieces, opened in June at the ASRT’s national office in Albuquerque, N.M. Greg Morrison, the museum’s executive director, told RadiologyBusiness.com that the facility is truly one of a kind.  

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“There are lots of museums that have radiology exhibits or are devoted to the science itself,” Morrison said in a phone interview. “This museum goes from science to actually highlighting the technologists’ and therapists’ role in medical imaging, which no other museum does.”

The museum includes a mix of videos, touch screens and hands-on exhibits. For example, visitors can try to “beat the clock” and assemble a replica of a portable x-ray unit in 8 minutes, which was the amount of time radiographers had to do that same task during World War II. There are also replicas of old radiation protection apparel such as lead-lined aprons and “bucket” head gear, so visitors can try them on and experience what it would have been like to dress for the job in its earliest stages.

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In the center of the museum—in a section referred to as “The Art of the Image”—visitors can learn about how radiology has been conveyed in pop culture over the years. The exhibit includes, for example, old x-ray glasses and the famous image of Homer Simpson’s pea-sized brain.

History buffs will be especially impressed with the museum’s collection of rare artifacts, including a Picker fluoroscopy unit and a GE “suitcase model” x-ray unit from 1935. The museum gives special attention to such pioneers as Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, and Marie Curie. The history of the ASRT itself is explored in great detail as well.

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Morrison said feedback from visitors has been very positive so far. Technologists in particular have said walking through the museum gives them a sense of pride.

“They’re extremely happy such a place exists that tells the story of the technologist,” Morrison said.

Visitors must currently make a reservation to tour the museum. Additional information can be found on the ASRT’s website.