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Collaboration with the Bakken Museum Leads to Interactive Prosthetics Exhibit

How would you make a pancake if you only had one hand? A new interactive Bakken Museum exhibit helps you answer that question and is aimed at helping people understand living life with artificial limbs or limb differences. The exhibit is a result of nine months of collaboration between Gillette Children’s experts and the Bakken Museum.

Helping Hands Lab exhibit at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis

“Our mission at the Bakken is to explore the potential for science and technology to make the world a better place, and Gillette puts that potential into practice every day. It really felt like a natural partnership to dig into,” says Adrian Fischer, Curator of Exhibits and Collections at the Bakken.

Michelle Hall, MS, CPO, LPO, FAAOP(D), the Gillette prosthetist who consulted on the exhibit, was excited from the beginning, too. “Working with the Bakken was very fun, yet eye-opening. It’s my local museum; less than a mile from my house, so I was excited to work with them. The concept for the display evolved into something completely different than what we had originally envisioned. Though that process was challenging at times, it led to an excellent final outcome,” says Michelle.

Helping Hands Lab exhibit at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis

One part of the exhibit, “Making a Myoelectric Prosthesis” explains the process of creating a custom prosthesis at Gillette. It even includes real pieces from Gillette’s Orthotics, Prosthetics and Seating department to help show the spectrum of work that goes into making prostheses.

In the “Personal Prosthetics Lab,” visitors try devices that could be used to help people who have limited use of one or both hands. The Bakken simulates cooking in a makeshift kitchen and tests visitors’ abilities to make pancakes using a variety of prosthetic devices.

Helping Hands Lab exhibit at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis

“We really wanted to showcase not just the process of designing an arm prosthetic, but also help visitors understand how creativity plays a role in that process,” says Adrian. “We collected three stories from people who are treated at Gillette and displayed their quotes to add depth to the exhibit. It shows visitors, especially kids, that people who have limb loss are adapting to a world that was not necessarily designed for them; and how a well-made prosthesis can make all the difference.”    

“I’m very proud to have been a part of this project. It was a real team effort. I hope that Gillette and Bakken staff will have another opportunity to collaborate in the future,” says Michelle.

The Bakken Museum is excited to be displaying “Making a Myoelectric Prosthesis” and the “Personal Prosthetics Lab” through September 2019.