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HERitage: Hysteria’s Shadow

MA students
18 December 2023 - 11 March 2024
Online exhibition

HERitage: Hysteria’s Shadow explores how medicines and misdiagnosis have been used to control women’s bodies and behaviours.

Curated by a group of six MA students from the University of Leeds, this virtual exhibition uses the Science Museum Group’s online collection to investigate hysteria’s history and legacy.

Imagine you are a woman in the 1800s seeking treatment for a mental health issue or suffering from such perceived ‘disorders’ as irritability or even ‘over excitement’.

Browse through the various ‘treatments’ that would have been sold to you as a cure and examine their questionable ingredients.

Now imagine you are a woman from 2023, and take a look at the progress (or lack of) for those seeking treatment for hormonal issues or the menopause.

Visit the exhibition

HERitage: Hysteria’s Shadow is part of a wider series of online exhibitions curated by Art Gallery and Museum Studies and Arts Management and Heritage MA students from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, as part of an Interpretations course module.

Visit the online exhibition.


Feature image adapted from Glass bottle, containing 'anti-hysteria water', Florence, Italy, 1850-1920. Glass, stopper, cork and tin, h 139mm x w 24mm. Object A69425,  Science Museum Collection. Original image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence.