During the Covid-19 pandemic museums closed. Most have now reopened but pre-booking may still be required or recommended . Please check the website before visiting
Some museums are wholly devoted to medicine, such as the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds, whereas other larger institutions hold medical collections within them, like the London based Science Museum, the Wellcome Trust or the Botanic Gardens Kew. Smaller local museums usually hold items drawn from local communities.
Supporting research is often a mutually beneficial activity for museums who often learn about items in their specialist collections from individual researchers. Museums may subsequently record and pass this additional information on to users in future.
If you are interested in what a museum might hold relevant to your research, the best place to start is usually their website. Please be aware that, although many museums do have online collection catalogues, many do not – and those that do, are usually partial inventories. Museum curators will be pleased to hear from researchers, and the more detail that you can provide in your initial approach, the better. Bear in mind that museum teams are often very small, and that curators may not have expertise in the area of medicine that you are researching. If you are interested in arranging to see material from the collection, please get in touch as far in advance as possible, as many collections are stored off-site and take time to retrieve for public viewing.
Briony Hudson 7/2020
How might I find the right museum for the subject I am interested in?
What Information do museums hold about their collections?
How do I search for museum artefacts and archives?
The Science Museum – London
The largest medical history museum collection in the UK
The new Medicines Gallery opened at the end of 2019
London Museums of Health and Medicine
The go-to-guide for collections, libraries and expertise relating to the history of medicine.
Association of Anaesthetists Heritage Centre – London
The story of anaesthesia, from its first public demonstration in 1846 to modern day anaesthetists working in the aftermath of wars and terrorist attacks. The Museum, rare book collection and archive are a unique resource for both curious visitors and specialist researchers.
The museum has a permanent and a temporary display, as well as pull-out drawers and flip books containing biographies and details of large anaesthetic machines.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum – London
From Ancient Greek medical theories to a rare penicillin culture vessel, from a mummified hand to the fastest selling drug in the world. All of these and more can be found in this collection of over 45,000 objects including a beautiful collection of English delftware drug storage jars amongst which is the oldest known dated piece. Library of rare books and the Society’s archive available to pre-booked enquirers.
Dr Jenner’s House, Museum and Garden – Berkley Somerset
From this beautiful house, country doctor Edward Jenner pioneered vaccination against smallpox.
Erasmus Darwin House – Litchfield
Darwin House is an independent, accredited Museum that was once the family home of doctor, inventor and published poet Erasmus Darwin (1731 – 1802). With its unique place in Georgian history Darwin House showcases the breadth of Erasmus Darwin’s interests and achievements which laid the foundations for his grandson and evolutionary biologist Charles.
Thackray Medical Museum – Leeds (currently closed for refurbishment)
The museum cares for over 80,000 items of historical medical equipment. Exhibitions range from the heritage of healthcare to the latest innovations in medicine.
Wellcome Collection – London. Permanent and temporary exhibitions relating to the history of medicine.
The Reading Room, hosts a programme of events including:
Activities are led by independent artists, writers and performers, as well as Wellcome Collection staff with knowledge of our collections.
The Reading Room also contains books and objects for you to discover, grouped in different themes around the room, including travel, pain, food and the body. On the shelves you will find over 1,000 different titles, featuring fiction, memoirs, graphic novels, magazines and even pop-up books.
The National Botanic Garden Wales has an amazing pharmacy collection –
The Museum of Medicine and Health at Manchester University
British Dental Museum – London. A collection of dental objects which span ?from the 17th century to the present day.
Photograph taken at Boots of Nottingham – closed archives