The newly designed permanent exhibition introduces you first of all to the life and work of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, as scientific researcher, discoverer of X-rays, and Nobel Prize winner, as well as in his private life. You can go on to visit our historical ‘fairground’, with its reports of some early popular attractions using X-rays and, after that, deepen your knowledge of early research into the physical nature of X-rays. That will be excellent preparation for the next step, which takes in the medical applications of the discovery. These started immediately after Röntgen’s demonstration that X-rays allow us to look inside the human body. Our X-ray nurse, Leonie Moser, will show you the pioneering work of the first medical X-ray specialists and explain what you can see on X-ray pictures.
A time-tunnel leads you on into the 20th century history of X-rays and their uses in war and peace. First comes a World War I field hospital, where you will see an army surgeon at work, and then Marie Curie reports on her idea of mobile X-ray units for the front, the so-called “petites Curies”. These were a forerunner of the mobile mass-screening clinic (or “X-ray bus”), in which you can learn something about the use of X-rays in the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis.
The second great medical application of X-rays was therapeutic rather than diagnostic, and you can learn about that in our hospital. Here, in cubicles reminiscent of the big hospital wards of the 1940s and 1950s, you will be introduced to radiotherapy equipment, from early devices like the Wintz cannon to much more powerful betatrons and gammatrons. Finally you can take your seat in a dental practice and allow our dental surgeon to explain the use of X-rays in modern dentistry.
If you are interested in the use of X-rays in other fields, you are welcome to look round our old exhibition rooms, where you will learn about the application of X-ray technology to such diverse fields as archaeological research on Egyptian mummies, palaeontology, art, and industrial materials control. We plan to redesign these rooms for you, too, in the near future.