To anyone interested in the topic of public health, a visit to the David J. Sencer CDC Museum in Atlanta is a must for two reasons:
1) The exhibit provides a comprehensive, yet easy to understand overview of the history and the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2) It shows the various battles fought against global diseases in the past and in the present, in great detail.
The museum, which is named after the longest serving director of the CDC, is located inside the CDC headquarters in Atlanta. There is no entry fee and individual visitors do not need to register in advance. As you might expect in a place that stores some of the most dangerous pathogens in the world, there is strict security when entering the headquarter, which includes a full car screening (exit the car, open all doors, trunk and hood for inspection) and another security check that takes place when one enters the building.
The museum has two floors at the visitor entrance. The upper level of the museum is dedicated to changing exhibits, currently highlighting the efforts that are being taken to reduce the burden of the refugee crisis caused by the Syrian war. This exhibition contains artifacts and accounts that enable visitors to better understand the help provided along the migration routes to keep people healthy and safe, for example, providing vaccinations and setting up field health clinics in the needed areas, such as the Greek islands where a lot of migrants arrive from Turkey.
The lower floor of the museum has a dedicated section about the
CDC’s history. Did you know the CDC grew out of the “Marine Hospital Service” that provided healthcare to merchant seamen and later screened immigrants arriving at sites such as Ellis Island? I did not. The way the CDC organizes itself and its teams is explained by answering questions like “How does the Epidemic Intelligence Service work?” and “What do emergency response teams do?”. A major part of the exhibition is the ongoing battle against old and new diseases. There are detailed descriptions and some chilling artifacts (like a container that once held Ebola tissue samples) for every conceivable disease and its eradication efforts, ranging from the well-known infectious ones, such as Smallpox, Ebola, HIV, Influenza, Legionella, Malaria, Polio, TB, and Zika, to the less well-known (the epidemic of violence), to non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and other critical health issues (9/11 aftermath, worker protection, and bioterrorism prevention).
So the answer to the above question is yes, I would definitely recommend a visit to anyone who is interested to one day enter the halls of the most famous public health agency in the world and to take the time to learn about its history and successes in fighting global diseases and the measures taken to safeguard us all.
For more information, check out their website:
David J. Sencer CDC Museum
1600 Clifton Road, NE, at CDC Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30329