Uncover the extraordinary collections assembled by medical individuals and institutions.
Clinical types cure. That is their calling.
But many also collect, and have done so throughout history. From Sir Hans Sloane, founder of the British Museum, to Henry Wellcome, the pharmacist whose eponymous library and collection grew to become one of the most esoteric and vast assemblages in the world.
The reasons for this hoarding tendency amongst the healing professions are complex and sometimes contradictory.
In religious societies, collecting has often been a way of humbly illustrating the vastness of god’s creation, whilst at once not quite so modestly making a statement about the wealth, intellect and taste of the collector.
Since the Enlightenment, collections have sought to serve as physical encyclopaedias, enriching the visitor’s view of the world at large, or the sphere of epidemiology, dental practice or comparative anatomy, according to the compendium’s theme.
London, so full of learned and professional societies from all branches of medicine and science, and individuals with a zeal to amass personal treasure troves of artefacts is a paradise of these ‘cabinets of curiosity’.
Join us as we take a tour of the Capital’s medical and academic quarter to discover beguiling but lesser known miscellanies and now long gone collections of note.
Encounter lost libraries, anthologies of anaesthesia, arrays of dentistry, apothecaries jars, secret gardens, old dissecting rooms and the anatomy laboratory where Charles Darwin was taught.
The walk commences at The Royal College of Physicians and lasts between 2½ and 3 hours including a highlights tour of the Royal College, its museum and collections*.
The tour costs £10 per person click here to book online
A small number of tickets are available on a turn up and pay basis on the day. These places are limited and payment should be made to the guide in cash.
“London’s Medical Cabinets of Curiosity” is also available as a private tour at any time by prior arrangement, subject to a minimum charge.
For further details or to make a group booking for a private tour please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
* On occasion access to the Royal College of Physicians may be limited due to events or works being carried out.