Nearly one-hundred years ago, a cataclysmic virus swept across the world, wiped out populations and dismantled societies in one fell swoop. It was in the air, and in your home, it was invisible to the naked eye and to all who made contact; with a small cough and a sharp draw of breath it became the unwanted visitor of many. One brief encounter from the merchant of malady created a lifetime of pain and suffering to all. Its name was Influenza.
Whereas many did not see this terror coming, and even more have yet to understand it, The Mütter Museum hopes to unravel the mysteries. Spit Spreads Death, with the name derived from advertisements displayed on buildings and transport during the outbreak, will be the latest attraction to spread within the walls of the museum. The exhibit will make its grand opening on the centennial of the outbreak in 2019.
Influenza drove the grim reaper into overtime, ringing in 50 million fatalities. Did you know that the City of Brotherly Love was hit the hardest? Neither did I until I spoke with Museum Director Robert Hicks. According to Hicks, 1-in-4 Philadelphians out of a population of 2 million were infected, and the virus spread so quickly that makeshift hospitals were created to house the overflow of afflicted.
The Mütter Museum will partner with the UK drama group Blast Theory to recount the survival stories and horrifying histories of this deadly epidemic through their no-holds-barred approach. Hicks also added that the group “will provide provocative and fascinating ideas,” and “impressed with Blast Theory’s spectrum of projects as they are particularly interested in focusing on audience response and behavior.”
Spit Spreads Death has already gone viral, and won’t be placed into quarantine anytime soon. Stories, blog posts and videos will be continuously uploaded throughout the coming months, as reported by Marketing Manager Gillian Ladley. “We will also be doing another live stream in mid-May, with select members of the public invited to participate in a live panel discussion. Due to the nature of what we’re doing, some of these stories will probably be off-the-cuff, and unpolished, quite unlike a normal communications campaign for a museum or art exhibit.” Stay tuned, Geeks!
Spit Spreads Death
@ The Mütter Museum, 19 S. 22nd Street
Opening in 2019