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Chasing the Cure to Albuquerque: Tuberculosis & Social Change

Information about exhibitions at Albuquerque Museum's William A. + Loretta Barrett Keleher Community History Gallery.

Chasing the Cure to Albuquerque: Tuberculosis & Social Change

Male TB patient in chaise lounge undergoing a sun treatment on the grounds of the sanatorium while an unidentified nurse stands by, c. 1930.
Courtesy Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives, gift of John Airy. The University of New Mexico Centennial Project. 
PA1982.181.426

Male TB patient in chaise lounge undergoing a sun treatment on the grounds of the sanatorium while an unidentified nurse stands by, c. 1930.
Courtesy Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives, gift of John Airy. The University of New Mexico Centennial Project.
PA1982.181.4265

 

Capital City Vitrified Brick and Tile Co., “Don’t Spit on Sidewalk” brick, c. 1904-24
Courtesy Carl H. Gellenthien Collection of the Valmora Industrial Sanatorium Records, New Mexico Health Historical Collection.  University of New Mexico Health Services Library and Informatics Center

Capital City Vitrified Brick and Tile Co., "Don't Spit on Sidewalk" brick, c. 1904-24
Courtesy Carl H. Gellenthien Collection of the Valmora Industrial Sanatorium Records, New Mexico Health Historical Collection. University of New Mexico Health Services Library and Informatics Center

 

April 22 to Oct. 29, 2017

Albuquerque Museum presents the community history exhibition, "Chasing the Cure to Albuquerque: Tuberculosis and Social Change", which opened April 22, 2017. "Chasing the Cure to Albuquerque" will show the significant historical impact of tuberculosis (TB) and how New Albuquerque expanded socially, politically, and economically as a result of TB in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Download a brochure of additional programs and resources available at the Public Library ABQ-Bernco and learn more!

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a slow-growing rod-shaped bacterium called "Mycobacterium tuberculosis" (MTB). It is an airborne pathogen transmitted from infected persons when they cough, sneeze, or spit and affects the pulmonary system and other areas on the body. TB is carried asymptomatically by approximately one-third of the global population and kills an estimated two million people per year on average. Historically, this disease was misunderstood, even romanticized, and came to known as an endemic disease transmitted by the poor in urban populations during the 19th and 20th centuries. Many people traveled to sanatoriums and boarding houses in drier and more arid climates, higher elevation, with fresh air and ample sunshine for treatment.

"After the opening to the Santa Fe Trail to the Americans in 1826, tuberculars began sojourning to the southwestern plateau upon hearing it was an Eden in the West," said guest curator Katherine Pomonis. "Physicians on the east coast were sending health seekers to the Southwest because it was thought that the dry climate and high altitude were therapeutic and curative." With the influx of health seekers in a small town that had limited boarding facilities, the development of sanatoriums, boarding houses, mortuaries, and cemeteries lead to an economic boom.

At the height of this Sanatorium Movement (1902-1937) there were 17 sanatoriums in Albuquerque and 52 in New Mexico. Several health seekers made Albuquerque their home and contributed to the growth and development of the city. William Lovelace founded the medical center. Kathryn Kennedy O'Connor founded the Albuquerque Little Theater. Physicians seeking cures for themselves raised the standard for the medical industry in our region.

This exhibit will feature photographs, documents, artwork from patients, pop culture, and personal and medical artifacts to show the significance TB had on the development of our city. "Chasing the Cure to Albuquerque" is the third community-curated exhibition and the second in the "Community History" series at the Albuquerque Museum. Part of the "Community as Curator" model, this exhibit is curated by local historian, Katherine Pomonis, in collaboration with a committee of community members: Dr. Yorgos Marinakis, Niki Kostandaris, and historian Mo Palmer. Albuquerque Museum's Assistant Curator of History Alyssa Ashbacher facilitated the development of the exhibition..

Video: Sneak Peak at 'Chasing the Cure'