Frances Glessner Lee, Attic (detail), c.1946–48. Mixed media, approx. .6875 x 17.125 x 12.875 in.

Frances Glessner Lee; Rick Araluce

Washington, DC

Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum

The “mother of forensic science,” Frances Glessner Lee (1878–1962) was a wealthy heiress from Chicago, who gave a large portion of her inheritance to Harvard University to create the first Department of Legal Medicine in the U.S. She was also the first female police captain in the country. In the early part of the 20th century, investigators had few opportunities to learn and train, which meant that they often overlooked or mishandled key evidence or irrevocably tampered with crime scenes. Nor did they have access to the sort of medical experience that would allow them to determine cause of death. Lee and her colleagues at Harvard worked to change this, developing a variety of tools to help trainees approach the search for truth scientifically…see the entire review in the print version of June’s Sculpture magazine.

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