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Views & Reviews Review

The art of medical science

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 07 December 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7940
  1. Desmond O’Neill, associate professor, Department of Medical Gerontology, Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin 24, and chairman of the National Centre for Arts and Health, Dublin
  1. doneill{at}

As part of its tercentenary celebrations, Trinity College Dublin allowed artists to work with researchers throughout the medical school. Desmond O’Neill enjoyed an exhibition of the resulting work

The best art always involves risk taking—as does the practice of good medicine. Bringing both cultures together can amplify the potential gains or hazards of taking these risks. At worst, the experiment may satisfy neither constituency, and the outcomes turn out to be wayward, extreme, or just plain worthy. It was with trepidation, therefore, that I set out to view a “big bang” fusion of art and medicine—the engagement of 11 major Irish artists with the School of Medicine of Trinity College Dublin to celebrate its tercentenary.

The setting, the Royal Hibernian Academy, was an encouraging start. Memorably described by Oliver St John Gogarty (poet; novelist; Buck Mulligan in Ulysses; and ear, nose and throat surgeon) as “a triple contradiction in terms,” the academy is at the …

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