The future of medical museums: threatened but not extinct

Denis Wakefield
Med J Aust 2007; 187 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2007.tb01304.x
Published online: 1 October 2007

Their value in modern medical education needs to be reaffirmed

Arguably the greatest claim to fame of the renowned English surgeon John Hunter was not his outstanding contribution to anatomy and surgery but the remarkable collection that now forms the Hunterian Museum in London.1 Hunter’s collection is testimony to his passion for science and his aptitude for self-directed enquiry, independent study and life-long learning. These attributes are now cherished cornerstones of modern medical education. Yet it is the adoption of these educational principles in modern medical curricula that is contributing to the demise of the time-honoured medical museum.

  • School of Pathology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.


  • 1. Royal College of Surgeons of England. Hunterian Museum Project. (accessed Aug 2007).
  • 2. Waugh D. The decline and fall of our medical museums. CMAJ 1990; 142: 236.
  • 3. Australian Credit Transfer Agency. Evaluation of the relative performance of commencing undergraduate students in Australian universities. Adelaide: ACTA, 1996. (accessed Sep 2007).
  • 4. Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Autopsy Working Party. The decline of the hospital autopsy: a safety and quality issue for health care in Australia. Med J Aust 2004; 180: 281-285. <MJA full text>
  • 5. Cooke R, editor. Scientific medicine in the twentieth century — a commemoration of 100 years of the International Association of Medical Museums and the International Academy of Pathology. Montreal: IAP, 2004.


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