"Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadephia," Spit Spreads Death sign, 1918, Collection of Temple University Libraries. Photo courtesy of The College of Physicians/Mütter Museum.
The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia presents Spit Spreads Death, an exhibition about the 1918–19 influenza pandemic in Philadelphia. Featuring an art film, objects, photographs, and a digital map, the exhibition explores this historic time period, the pandemic’s impact on Philadelphia neighborhoods, and connections to contemporary health issues. The global crisis killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide from 1918 to 1919, and Philadelphia had the highest death rate of any major American city: more than 12,000 people died in a six-week span, and more than 20,000 died in six months.
Coupled with the exhibition, The Mütter Museum, internationally renowned artist group Blast Theory, and local community health organizations host a parade on September 28 to honor those who died in the pandemic and to honor those who keep us safe today.