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To encourage self-exams, museum visitors are invited to touch breasts on paintings by Rubens and Rembrandt

Breast cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer worldwide. Survival rates vary by country but can be as high as 99% if symptoms are detected in an early stage. To encourage more women to perform regular self-exams, Argentinian breast cancer nonprofit Macma hosted an interactive exhibition at the Fernández Blanco Museum in Buenos Aires.

Full-scale copies were made of three paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Raphael. Each work features women with bare breasts showing signs of what could well have been cancer. The breasts were molded in 3D to create realistic lumps, skin retraction and swollen lymph nodes. People were invited to touch them, providing a sense of what to feel for when performing self-exams.


The Art of Self-Examination was developed by creative agency DAVID Buenos Aires, which worked with diagnostic imaging specialist Dr. Liliana Sosa to create lifelike signs of breast cancer. As reported by Muse by Clio, it was visited by over 10,000 people.


Showing usually beats telling. And when it comes to complex and potentially unnerving information like cancer and self-exams, showing plus feeling is even better.

Macma and DAVID's concept of using 500-year-old paintings to help people see and feel signs of breast cancer will make a longer-lasting impression than straightforward explanations in text and graphics. Now, who can develop a similarly tactile and emotionally impactful campaign for people who don't visit museums?

Related: Cancer institute tweaks graffiti to encourage testicular self-exams

Innovation of the day

Spotted by: Pablo Riquelme