Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine’s Tropical Medicine Time Machine at the World Museum

News article 14 Aug 2023

The weekend saw researchers from LSTM taking the institute’s 125 years of rich history and science to the World Museum in Liverpool as part of the National Lottery Heritage-funded project, LSTM – Past, Present, and Future. The pop-up exhibition, called the Tropical Medicine Time Machine, took the museum visitors on a journey through LSTM’s history to its present day work in areas of disease vectors, public health, and travel health.

Visitors were delighted to explore the Tropical Medicine Time Machine, created by Sci-Art practitioners Tom Hyatt and Natasha Niethamer, which transported them across LSTM’s past, present, and future to learn about its vital work in the areas of vector biology, snakebite venom research, public health, and travel health.

The Tropical Medicine Time Machine was joined by LSTM’s Centre for Snakebite Research and Interventions (CSRI) who had the museum audience enthralled with their stories detailing the impact of snakebites on the world’s subsistence farming communities. The CSRI team, who also feature in the Tropical Medicine Time Machine, spoke of how they regularly handle venomous snakes safely to conduct their life-saving research into the search for novel anti-venoms.

Community Volunteer, Paula Wright, who has recently retired from LSTM’s Clinical Diagnostic Parasitology Service demonstrated how malaria is detected in the blood of infected individuals.  She showed museumgoers the species of malaria parasites that a human could encounter following the bite of an infected mosquito, highlighting that the methods utilised by the diagnostics team to identify parasites in blood today are the same used by LSTM’s earliest scientists. She also encouraged the audience to reflect on the importance of swift diagnostics to quickly treat an individual with the deadliest forms of malaria.

Scientists from LSTM’s departments of Tropical Disease Biology and Vector Biology were also present, bringing creative games, crafts, and fun interactive activities to the World Museum, delighting audiences by pitting families against the robotics used in their laboratories in a game of ‘Beat the Robot.’

The custodian of LSTM’s archive, Sarah Lewis Newton, was on-hand to expand on the history outlined in the Tropical Medicine Time Machine and answer questions relating to LSTM’s colonial history and how LSTM is trying to better understand its staff, impact, and legacy.

Dr Elli Wright, Public Engagement Manager, and lead on the LSTM – Past, Present, and Future project said: “It was fantastic to be at the World Museum with the Tropical Medicine Time Machine - the audience were incredibly eager to explore the science, art, and history of LSTM and the feedback we received was excellent. We are delighted to begin bringing the time machine to audiences across the city of Liverpool, and we are looking forward to the next time it is brought to the World Museum over the August Bank Holiday weekend.”

The Tropical Medicine Time Machine will be back at the World Museum over the August Bank Holiday weekend. For more information, visit here.

The World Museum is also currently hosting two display cases showcasing the story of LSTM’s first female lecturer, Dr Alwen Evans, and her beautiful and detailed scientific illustrations. For more information visit here.

You can find out more about where the next LSTM-Past, Present, and Future event will be by following LSTM on social media (@LSTMnews on Twitter and LSTM on Facebook). LSTM would like to thank National Lottery players for their support, in enabling this important project to go ahead.