The American Society of Radiologic Technologists wanted to find a way to tell the complete story of the organization and the profession it represents. The solution: a brand-spanking-new interactive museum attached to ASRT’s headquarters.
The X-ray might have been accidentally discovered way back in 1895, but the technology advanced quickly and is considered by some to be among the most important developments of the 20th century.
The American Society of Radiologic Technologists, founded in 1920, represents the professionals who perform medical imaging procedures and has a history nearly as long as the technology itself. To preserve that collective legacy, ASRT has added to its headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a 4,500-square-foot museum.
“There are various medical imaging exhibits at museums around the world, but no museum really tells the story of the people who produce the X-rays, who operate the equipment, and who really work on the patients,” said ASRT CEO Sal Martino, CAE. “We wanted to tell the story of our members and preserve that history because it really has changed so much—from the 1920s, when they produced images on glass plates, to what most of us remember with doctors putting X-ray film up on a view box, to today where everything is digital.”
So, ASRT dug into its reserves, called on several top-notch museum architects, and put out a call for artifacts that anyone in the community might still be holding onto. To that request, Martino said, the response was overwhelming.
“What I found fascinating was how much stuff was out there in peoples’ basements,” he said. “It’s almost like what you do with your own family history, like you can’t believe they held onto that kind of stuff—old photos and outfits and things like that—but you’re glad that they did.”
We wanted to tell the story of our members and preserve that history because it really has changed so much.
In June, three years after the $3 million project got underway, the ASRT Museum and Archives opened in conjunction with the association’s annual meeting. The highly interactive multimedia space includes a mix of touch tables, video screens, and hands-on exhibits. The one catch: It’s not open to the public.
“Because it’s housed in our national headquarters, we can’t have it open all of the time like a regular museum,” Martino explained. “But we envision the space being open to every radiologic technologist around the world, and we want it to be used by school trips to have groups locally and nationally come in so they can look at radiologic technology as a possible profession and play around with the interactive displays.”
To staff the museum, ASRT will shift a few roles and may add a part-time curator. In the future, Martino anticipates the space being a vast and open canvas.
“Especially with the multimedia aspect of it, all of the videos and other things from today can continuously be added and archived and preserved,” he said. “I would argue just how important it is for an association to preserve not only the history of their association, but the history of the members that they represent. And for that reason, we couldn’t be more excited with how this turned out.”