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Science Museum

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A small display of medical artefacts while we develop our new medical galleries opening in 2019. Suitable for students aged 11 and over. Until 3 June 2018.

From pacemakers to paracetamol, medicine shapes all of our lives by identifying, preventing and treating an ever-widening range of illnesses. It can be easy to forget that medical interventions have not always been so effective or freely available, but the Science Museum's medicine collection records the tragedies and triumphs of our long search for good health and the ever-changing presence of medicine. 

In the 1870s Henry Wellcome, an American businessman, began his own search: to collect things relating to all aspects of medicine and human health. Building on his legacy, this gallery shows the range of ways in which people have thought about health—through modern medicines, prehistoric surgical tools and many things that no longer seem medical.

This is not a simple story of advancement from unsophisticated beginnings to modern enlightenment; alongside medicine's successes, students will see some of its dead-ends, errors and injustices.

This gallery is ideal for Medicine through time courses. Visit the Making the Modern World and Who am I? galleries to complement the theme.

This page is for educational groups; for general visitor information, please see the main gallery page.

We are grateful to have received initial financial support for the new Medicine Galleries from:

Wellcome Trust
Heritage Lottery Fund
The Wolfson Foundation