Did you know? The Medical History Museum

February 11 / 54

The University’s Medical History Museum is one of more than 30 cultural collections at the University, and is part of the Melbourne Medical School.

Situated on level 2 of the Brownless Biomedical Library, it was established by Professor Kenneth Russell in 1967 with a grant from the Wellcome Institute, London.

The museum holds the oldest collection of its kind associated with a medical school in Australia.
It holds about 6000 items, which include objects, photographs, archives and ephemera. Three ornate display cases from the Melbourne Interntional Exhibition (1880) hold microscopes and surgical instruments from the early 1800s to the 1950s.

Through its artefacts and documents, the museum tells the history of the Melbourne Medical School, its clinical hospitals, students and teachers.

It also holds an extensive collection of medical instruments and machines representing 200 years of technology, as well as objects relating to public health. Other highlights include a collection of apothecary jars dating back to the 1600s and large photographic and archival collection relating to past graduates, prominent medical practitioners and medical treatments over the last two centuries.

The museum functions as a collecting museum, receiving and encouraging acquisitions, producing exhibitions, encouraging public access and providing guided tours and support for the academic programs within the University.

Since its opening in 1967, the museum's collection has grown substantially through the donation of documents, photographs, instruments, and records from medical graduates, families and institutions in and around Melbourne.

Since 1994, with the long-term loan of the Australian Medical Association collection, the museum’s scope has broadened to cover the history of the profession in Victoria.

On permanent display in the museum is a fully equipped nineteenth-century Savory and Moore Pharmacy, shipped from London and installed in 1971.

The museum is open to the public, and functions as a tool for the University’s teaching and research, with a yearly program of temporary exhibitions which cover a broad range of medical subjects. 

Guided museum tours are also provided for student groups and for interested members of the wider community.  

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