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Science Museum to display medical firsts

The Science Museum has acquired the first 3D printed models used by surgeons to plan a complex paediatric kidney transplant. The models will go on permanent display as part of the Museum's ambitious new Medicine Galleries, set to open in 2019.

New acquisition announced for Medicine Galleries as £7.6m funding award confirmed

  • Science Museum acquires first 3D printed models used in a paediatric kidney transplant
  • Incubator used to grow the first 'test tube' babies to be displayed
  • The Heritage Lottery Fund approves £7.6m funding award for the new galleries

The Science Museum has acquired the first 3D printed models used by surgeons to plan a complex paediatric kidney transplant. The models will go on permanent display as part of the Museum's ambitious new Medicine Galleries, set to open in 2019.​

One of many remarkable objects and stories that have been selected for the new gallery, these 3D printed models were created from the radiology scans of a father's adult sized kidney and his two-year-old daughter's abdomen, in preparation for a transplant operation between parent and child. The models were acquired by the Science Museum from Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust where Transplant Registrar and KCL Research Fellow Pankaj Chandak developed the idea of using 3D printed models of the organs to help plan complex transplantation outside the high pressure environment of the operating theatre.

Pankaj Chandak said: 

'It's fantastic and a huge honour that our work has been accepted by the 'Temple of Science'—London's Science Museum, and in keeping with the Museum's vision to inspire, educate and enthuse schoolchildren and visitors of all ages in scientific discovery.'

The Medicine Galleries have been made possible by generous grants from Wellcome, the Wolfson Foundation and Heritage Lottery Fund, who have this week confirmed that the project has been awarded £7.6 million in funding. This landmark £24 million project will transform the first floor of the Science Museum, creating a magnificent new home for the Museum's world-renowned medical collections.

Lead Curator of the Medicine Galleries, Dr Emily Scott-Dearing, said: 

'The Science Museum already looks after one of the largest and most significant collections of medical artefacts in the world. It contains great moments of innovation from the past, but it is also our role to grow the collection to reflect the leading edge of biomedical research and clinical practice today. The new Medicine Galleries will showcase life-changing breakthroughs of the past alongside emerging medical trends, revealing personal stories of how our lives have been transformed by changes in medical research and practice.'

Also on display in the new Galleries will be the glass incubator used in the creation of the world's first 'test tube' babies. Used to keep embryos at body temperature as they developed inside, this incubator has been loaned by the family of Sir Robert Edwards who, along with surgeon Patrick Steptoe, successfully pioneered conception through IVF, leading to the birth of Louise Brown in 1978. Since then over 5 million babies have been born thanks to IVF techniques. From 14 October visitors to the Science Museum will be able to see the incubator on display in the Making the Modern World gallery.

Based on the extraordinary collections of Sir Henry Wellcome and the Science Museum, the Medicine Galleries will house over 2000 objects. The galleries will be designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and cover more than 3000m².

The Medicine Galleries have been made possible by a £10 million grant from Wellcome, £7.6 million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and further support from the Wolfson Foundation. The galleries will be free to visit and are set to open in 2019. Find out more.


For further information please contact Julia Murray in the Science Museum Press Office, on 020 7942 4328 or email

Notes to Editors

About the Science Museum

As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum's world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over 3 million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement.

About Wellcome

Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We're a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, the Heritage Lottery Fund uses National Lottery players' money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about.

About the Wolfson Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science, health, education and the arts. Since 1955 it has awarded over £800 million (£1.7 billion in real terms) to some 10,000 projects across the UK, all on the basis of expert peer review. Connect on Twitter and Facebook.

About Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

Guy's and St Thomas' provides more than 2.3 million patient contacts in acute and specialist hospital services and community services every year. As one of the biggest NHS trusts in the UK, with an annual turnover of more than £1.3 billion, we employ around 15,000 staff.

Guy's and St Thomas' is part of King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC), a collaboration between King's College London, and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.

Read the full story of how surgeons at Guy's and St Thomas' pioneered the world's first use of 3D printing to support the successful transplantation of an adult kidney into a child.