Mind the Gut-displaying microbiome research through artistic collaboration

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This paper presents the Mind the Gut exhibition, opened in 2017 at the Medical Museion, the University of Copenhagen's museum for the culture and history of medicine. It is an experimental exhibition combining science, art, and history in an examination of the relationship between mind and gut, including the trillions of microbes that inhabits them. Mind the Gut was the result of a 2-year-long research and curatorial process, which began in 2015 when Museion was awarded the Bikuben Foundation Vision Award. The exhibition brings together the long history of attempts to understand and intervene in the relationship between mind and gut, between emotions and digestion with cutting-edge biomedical research, and includes the perspectives of science, medicine, and personal experience, via a combination of artworks, historical objects from the Medical Museion collections, items from laboratories, and individual stories. The exhibition is organized around different ways the body has been handled in order to intervene in interactions between mind, gut, and bacteria, including imaging, electrifying, feeding, drugging, and opening surgically. This paper outlines some of the thoughts on science communication that motivated the exhibition, discussing why the displays emphasize the exploratory over the explanatory. Also discussed are several artistic collaborations that formed part of the displays. Ultimately, Mind the Gut is created to be a public space that encourages reflection and curiosity, by showing how biomedicine fits into social, cultural, historical, and directly personal contexts. The exhibition does not aim to provide answers about what food the visitors should eat or what the truth of how gut and brain interactions might be. Rather, it emphasizes process over result, hopefully encouraging the visitors to ask their own questions of the relationship between mind and gut, between body and microbes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1555433
JournalMicrobial Ecology in Health and Disease
Issue number2
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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