Chinese Medicine in America: Converging Ideas, People, and Practices

April 26, 2018 - September 09, 2018


Chinese medical practices and medicines are all around us. In the mid-19th century, these “mysterious and magical” practices and concoctions arrived alongside the earliest Chinese immigrants who built the railroads and searched for gold. In the 1970s, this “alternative” medicine was best represented by acupuncture which was introduced widely. Today, Chinese medicine is an integrated part of health care in America. With its perceived evolution, is Chinese medicine better understood? What are its facets and mechanisms? What are its recognized benefits?


Intersecting ancient metaphysical concepts like Yin Yang, Qi, and Five Elements with the ubiquitous practices of Chinese medicine in America, such as herbal treatments and acupuncture, this exhibition will tell a layered story of Chinese medicine and practices in America. It will feature historical medical artifacts, contemporary art, and profiles on notable figures in Chinese medicine history to create an engaging space for exploring how medicine, philosophy and history are linked.



Image: A doctor taking the pulse of a woman patient, ca. 1890, Watercolor by Zhou Pei Zun, Courtesy of the Wellcome Collection.