Glimpses of Medical History gallery

This gallery will be closing on 20 September 2015 in readiness for our brand new medical galleries which will open in 2019. Read more about our plans.

See a mixture of reconstructions and dioramas, depicting forty vivid 3D snapshots from the history of practical medicine.

You’ll glimpse medical dramas such as the on-board carnage of a warship’s surgery during the age of Nelson, childbirth in a Victorian home and cataract surgery in 11th century Persia.

From skull trepanning in the Neolithic era to a hospital operating theatre in the late 20th century, the gallery explores the varied and complex relationships between patients and those who treat them.

Among the broad themes that run through the exhibition are the rise of preventative medicine, the increasing use of technology and the growth of medical specialisms.

This gallery also complements the main medical gallery, The Science and Art of Medicine.

On display

The first operation using anaesthesia, 1846.

Diorama 'The Discovery of Anaesthetics' showing John Collins Warren performing the first surgical operation carried out with a general anaesthetic, on 16 October 1846 in the Massachusetts Hospital in Boston. Made by the Wellcome Institute Workshop, L

The Rise of Anatomy, a dissection in the 14th century.

This diorama illustrates what may have taken place during a dissection in the University of Bologna in the 14th century. The body, of an executed criminal, is being studied by a group of students. An attendant waits with a bucket to take away the dis

The Museum of Argote de Molina at Seville, Spain, c 1580.

Diorama "New Drugs from the New World" showing Nicholas Monardes in a museum in Seville, c.1565, made by Wellcome Institute Workshop, London, 1945-1960