An imaginary ballet takes shape at the CDC

Artist Joanna Ebenstein offers artifacts from an invented 19th-century ballet


  • courtesy Joanna Ebenstein/CDC Museum

Walking into the exhibit Savior of Mothers: The Forgotten Ballet of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis with its old scrapbook, crumbling program, and yellowed German newspaper clippings, you could be forgiven for momentarily believing that the 19th-century ballet they all describe is real. But the ballet Savior of Mothers is entirely the product of the imagination of New York-based artist Joanna Ebenstein.

In a blend of the real and the imaginary, the historical and invented, Ebenstein's small, one-room installation, now at the CDC David J. Sencer Museum through September 5, displays artifacts and ephemera from an imaginary ballet about a very real historical figure: the early 19th-century Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis.