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10 Most Interesting Museums Shedding Light on the History of Medicine

Museums are not called the memory of societies for nothing… Many social and cultural values, material and spiritual elements are preserved and transferred to future generations thanks to museums. For this reason, it is quite natural for many people to think of sculptures dating back thousands of years or everyday objects used by people when they think of a museum. Did you know that diseases are exhibited in some museums? Or deformed, rather scary looking human skeletons!

Medical advances save millions of lives every day. However, many of the advances in medicine were made possible by the strange, even brutal, trials of people who lived before us. Thanks to these museums, it is still remembered how and why people got sick and how they were treated throughout history. Thus, it is possible for humanity to benefit from the mistakes and experiences of the past and to make the developments in the field of health continuous. Here are 10 interesting medical museums from different geographies of the world…

1. Surgeons’ Hall, Scotland


Located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, Surgeons’ Hall is home to many fascinating artifacts from the history of medicine. Edinburgh was a very important medical center between the 16th and 19th centuries. Therefore, the origins of Surgeons’ Hall date back to 1505. The museum hosts many bone and tissue samples, as well as works of art, as well as documents and reports emerging in the field of medicine. On the other hand, information and documents about two serial killers who committed murders in order to sell corpses to the medical school in the 1800s are also included here.

2. Barts Pathology Museum, England


The Barts Pathology Museum in London was founded in 1837. Barts Pathology Museum, one of the most important medical museums in England, hosts more than 4,000 medical samples. In addition, a very important skull for England is also exhibited in this museum. The skull of John Bellingham, who killed Spencer Percival, the first and only prime minister to be assassinated in British history, is one of the numerous pieces in the museum.

3. Fragonard Museum, France


Founded in 1766, this museum is one of the oldest museums in France. The artifacts exhibited in this medical museum are quite interesting. Extensive anatomy collection is exhibited in the museum. In addition, congenitally deformed creatures are among the interesting elements in the museum. However, the most original pieces in the museum are the “skinned” figures! Studies by Honore Fragonard, one of the most important names in the field of medicine in France, constitute the most important collection of the museum.

4. Berlin Medical History Museum, Germany


The Berlin Medical History Museum is located in the same complex as Europe’s largest university hospital. The building, which was built in the complex in 1899, is used as a museum. As with many medical museums, the Berlin Medical History Museum has many interesting artifacts. These include a 750-piece organ collection, prosthetic limbs from ancient times, and numerous objects such as skull drills. This historical museum is very valuable for those who want to have an idea about the anatomy developments in the 18th and 19th centuries.

5. Meguro Parasitological Museum, Japan


Founded by Doctor Satoru Kamegai, this parasitology museum is quite young compared to other medical museums on our list. The museum was founded in 1959. However, this museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to parasites. More than 45,000 parasite specimens are on display at the museum. The parasitology museum is full of interesting information on many topics, from the life cycles of parasites to their habitats. On the other hand, the 2nd floor of the museum is full of parasites that are dangerous to humans. So if you decide to visit the museum, be careful when you reach the 2nd floor!

6. Museum of Human Disease, Australia

Established in 1959 in Australia, this museum was originally established to train young doctor candidates on human diseases. The museum, which was founded by Donald Wilhelm, served for this purpose for a while and made a great contribution to the training of young doctors. However, over time, both this educational institution grew and the number of diseases in it increased. Thus, the structure founded by Donald Wilhelm became a museum. Today, the effects of more than 2,500 diseases on different tissues, from cancer to heart attack, from diabetes to genetic disorders, are exhibited…

7. Vrolik Museum, Netherlands

The Vrolik Museum was originally a private medical collection from the mid-18th century. However, in the 19th century, it became a rich medical museum with the intensive work done by the medical professor Gerardus Vrolik. The works in this extremely interesting museum mostly belong to the fields of anatomy and embryology. The oldest of the pieces in the museum is from the 16th century. The date when the most recent work began to be exhibited is 1950. On the other hand, this interesting museum is not the type that everyone can visit easily. Because many living things with different deformities are exhibited in the museum…

8. Paul Stradins Museum of Medical History, Latvia

This museum, where more than 203,000 objects are exhibited, is one of the largest medical museums in the world. Thanks to this surprisingly large collection, those who visit the museum have the opportunity to witness all phases of the history of medicine! It is even possible to come across surgical operation materials of Stone Age healers in the museum! But that’s not the most interesting thing in the museum! The unfortunate heroes of the “double-headed dog” experiment by Soviet scientist Vladimir Demikhov shed light on the dark ages of medical history.

9. Bethlem Museum of the Mind, England

A mental hospital was established in England in 1247! Bedlam Mental Hospital was one of the first hospitals in both England and Europe to be established only for the mentally ill. However, the hospital’s reputation was cemented not by curing patients, but by torturing them! Here, the Bethlem Museum of the Mind is an interesting, disturbing and sad medical museum where you can witness up close, especially the troubles and tortures of the mentally ill for centuries.

10. Glore Psychiatric Museum, United States

Illnesses were a nuisance in all periods of history. However, the past times were very, very challenging, especially for the mentally ill. Because a few hundred years ago, torture was considered one of the treatments for mental illness. Glore Psychiatric Museum, like the Bethlem Museum of the Mind, sheds light on the darkest periods in the history of medicine. In the museum, many historical objects such as the equipment of a mental hospital opened in 1874, the clothes of patients and doctors, and the belongings of patients are exhibited. In addition, the sad story of a patient who lived in the hospital for 72 years awaits visitors to the museum…

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