“Microbes don't necessarily first come to mind as intuitive territory for a cultural exhibition, but Germ City uses scientific models, historical objects, and contemporary artworks to make the very personal stories of New Yorkers who have been impacted by contagious disease over time come alive,” said Anne Garner, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at The New York Academy of Medicine Library, and co-curator of Germ City. “Everyone can relate to what it's like to feel afraid or uncertain about illness, and/or comforted by caregivers, and we hope the show will provoke new conversations about responses to epidemic disease." “The Academy is pleased to partner with our neighbor The Museum of the City of New York and with the Wellcome Trust on this important exhibition and program series,” said Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS, President of The New York Academy of Medicine. “This effort brings together our collective expertise on the history of health in New York and the impact that outbreaks of disease over time have had on New York City’s residents, infrastructure, and its many interlocking systems including housing, urban planning, water systems, migration, and public health policies.” Rebecca Hayes Jacobs, Andrew W. Mellon, Post-Doctoral Cultural Fellow, with the Museum of the City of New York, added, “we were interested in bringing together historical artifacts, scientific models and contemporary art to try to address this topic of infectious disease, and organized it thematically about responses to disease. It shows artifacts and artwork about containment, investigation, care and stopping disease in the urban environment. And so we selected objects that might be visually interesting, thought provoking, and might surprise people and make them think and also bring up the social meaning of contagion. It is about the cultural side. It's a topic that is underappreciated, infectious
disease might sound scary and intimidating, but anyone can learn more if they’re interested. We have a whole interactive space in the reading room, where people can learn personal stories, so hopefully it is a very accessible exhibition for just about anyone.” After touring the exhibit and listening to opening remarks, we spoke with Seema Kumar, VP of Innovation, Global Health and Policy Communication, Johnson & Johnson, a sponsor of the exhibit. ATHLEISURE MAG: Can you tell us about J&J's role and work in this field? SEEMA KUMAR: J&J has a really superb global footprint in terms of multiple disease and therapeutic areas.