Museum Collection

The creation of the Museum Collection was the brainchild of the Foundation Council in 1953 who recognised the importance of collecting and preserving the wide range of instruments and equipment used by GPs during the last two centuries.

What kinds of objects does the museum contain?

The collection consists of some nine hundred individual objects  some of which are rare and of outstanding interest and value. A few items predate the 18th century and the whole collection is of great importance to the heritage of general practice.

The variety of items in the museum bears witness to the extent and diversity of skills practised by both our contemporaries and predecessors.  The curators have catalogued the acquisitions according to their specialty to facilitate the individual interest of General Practitioners and other professionals in primary care. Many of the items will be of significance to those interested in the History of Medicine.

The earliest objects currently on display include antique apothecary jars and a mid-17th century pewter baptismal syringe. On permanent display is our Edmund Culpeper monocular microscope with accessories, circa 1725.

How can I view the collection?

At the request of the Imperial War Museum, Manchester, the College, through the Heritage Committee, loaned some seventy-five items from its collection to the Museum. The display depicted equipment used in general practice in the post-war years prior to the establishment of the NHS.  We have loaned objects to other institutions on many occasions and will signpost to places where you can view the collection when these loans take place.

The displays we have been able to curate in past have been somewhat limited by the space available within the College, and were kept under constant review by the Honorary Curator.  Our move to new premises at 30 Euston Square in September 2012 will afford new opportunities for exhibitions of objects.

If you are a member of the College and would like to see or obtain more information on the Collection please contact the Archivist, who would be pleased to help.

If you are a member of the public and are interested in viewing the collection, please email heritage@rcgp.org.uk to make an enquiry. 

We are making photographs and extracts from the catalogue available online on the Flickr photo sharing website.  We would welcome any questions you have about the instruments available to view there, or any comments you have on our collections.

How will the collection develop in future?

Fellows, Members of the College and many other benefactors have given generously towards the Collection over the years and continue to do so.

The Heritage Committee would welcome further donations of medical equipment used by past general practitioners which could fill gaps in the collection.   To enter into discussion on this issue, please contact the Archivist in the first instance.

Our Museum Policy, linked below, sets out the way in which the museum is developed and managed, by the Honorary Curator, the Heritage Committee and the Archivist.

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