The historical curator of a new exhibition at the Mütter Museum discusses the eerie parallels between the 1918-1919 flu pandemic and the coronavirus.
In the fall of 1918 the (misnomered) Spanish flu ravaged much of the world. Philadelphia was hit especially hard: it had the highest death rate of any major American city. Over the course of six weeks 12,000 people in the city died. Hospitals were overcrowded and bodies piled up.
When the Mütter Museum embarked on the multiyear exhibition and public art project Spit Spreads Death, the curators and researchers behind it had no idea how relevant it would become—or how quickly.
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