Cartographies of Life & Death:

John Snow & Disease Mapping

13 March – 17 April 2013, 10–17.00, free entry

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT | various off-site locations

The mobile-map which allows you to follow the exhibition via your mobile phone can be found at

Cartographies of Life and Death marks the bicentenary of John Snow (1813–1858). The exhibition celebrates his famous inquiry into the cholera outbreaks of 1850s London, and the lasting significance of his work in the fields of disease mapping and public health. Historical documents from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Library & Archives, the Wellcome Library, the Museum of London and the London Metropolitan Archives, some on display for the first time, are shown alongside specially commissioned contemporary artworks. Conceived as a disease mapping ‘detective’ trail, the exhibition invites you to chart your own journey of discovery across different sites and ways of mapping.

Tracing the history of how death and disease have been recorded since early times, the exhibition highlights the improved insights mapping offered into the patterns of disease. The use of maps to present medical and other knowledge was advanced in the nineteenth century when the need to understand unfamiliar epidemics became increasingly urgent with the new social and environmental conditions brought about by the Industrial Revolution and the expanding British empire.

Snow’s medical and street-level knowledge of the Soho area where he also lived, led him to deduce that cholera was transmitted by water, not ‘miasma’ or polluted air, as previously thought. It was the application of cartography though, that gave his complex theory its accessible image, and today summarises a powerful story of how cultural, social and political beliefs can act as barriers to scientific knowledge and understanding.

Artists: Catherine Anyango; Anne EggebertSarah Cole; Bompas and Parr; Amy Sharrocks; Pam Skelton

Curated by: Julie Hill (Artakt, CSM) | Curatorial advisor: Caterina Albano (Artakt, CSM)

Photography © Ben Blossom