Scotland has a fascinating medical heritage that spans hundreds of years. Many of the world’s leading discoveries in medical science were pioneered in Scotland. In this section there is information on archives, museums and libraries that hold fascinating public collections on some of the remarkable people, places and resources associated with this outstanding heritage.

Information on each institution is available, including opening times and contact details.

 
 
A blue and silver medal showing the coat of arms for the Royal Infirmary of Aberdeen.

Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums

The medical collections of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums have strong North East connections and reflect the way in which medical science and practise impact upon local communities.

A black and white bust portrait photo of a man with short hair wearing a suit, looking directly into the camera.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives

The holdings of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives, one of the largest health authority archives in the United Kingdom, consist principally of the archives of the hospitals in the Glasgow area and in Greenock and Paisley.

An imposing stone building, that has been lit up golden in the sunshine. Stairs leads up to the entrance. The door is framed with pillars, and two statues of people are mounted over it.

Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh is home to Scotland’s oldest medical library. We hold over 60,000 books, including a copy of the first edition of the first book printed on medicine - the De Medicina of Celsus, published in 1478 - and almost 1500 journals, some of which are particularly rare. We also hold over 400 externally deposited manuscript collections concerning eminent scientists.

A museum space with paintings, busts and glass cabinets. The view is drawn to an oil painting at the back, which shows a man in tetanus. He is lying tense on the ground, back arched and in pain.

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

Founded in 1505, the Incorporation of Surgeons and Barbers (from 1778 The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh) is one of the oldest medical incorporation's in continuous existence in the world, and our unique collections fully represent this heritage.

The Hunterian

The Hunterian was opened to the public in 1807 and is Scotland’s oldest public museum. It was established around the collections of Dr William Hunter, the celebrated 18th century anatomist, doctor and obstetrician. As a physician and collector, he was unique amongst his contemporaries in several ways, not least in having had the foresight to bequeath his entire museum collections and library to his alma mater, the University of Glasgow, thereby avoiding their dispersal in the salerooms.

A black and white photo showing a large group of nurses outdoors. Most of them are smiling or laughing. Three are pulling a cart with firefighting equipment inside, with more nurses helping by pushing from the back.

University of Dundee Archives

The University of Dundee Archives hold a wide variety of collections that contain a wealth of material for all types of researcher: academic staff, postgraduate and undergraduate students, private researchers, including family historians, and school pupils.

A hall with polished stone floors and walls. There is an open door with "Anatomical Museum" written over it, and with a bust on either side. Only bright light is visible through the door. Two very large animal skeletons are either side of the hall, closer to the camera than the door.

University of Edinburgh Anatomy Museum

The collection of the Anatomical Museum consists of approximately 12,000 objects, which illustrate the story of 300 years of teaching Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh.

University of St. Andrews Museums

The Anatomy and Pathology Collection contains over 5,000 items, mainly gross wet and dry specimens, but also surgical instruments, wax and plastinated models, and teaching charts, some of the latter being produced by local artists.

A black a white photo. On the right is a woman with short dark hair in a lab coat. She is holding up and looking up a large glass bottle filled with a dark substance.

Lothian Health Services Archive

Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA) holds the historically important local records of NHS hospitals and other health-related material. It collects, preserves and catalogues these records and promotes them to increase understanding of the history of health and for the benefit of all. LHSA is core funded by NHS Lothian and project funded by a variety of institutions, including the Wellcome Trust. LHSA is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections and was awarded Accredited Archive Status in 2014.

National Museums Scotland

Amongst this amazing collection of the nation's treasures, you can find some 700 items relating to all aspects of medical history, including Fleming’s Nobel Prize for Medicine (1945) for the discovery of penicillin, prototype apparatus used to develop the first clinically useful MRI scanner, and early devices for CT scanning and obstetric ultrasound. Older material includes items relating to Scottish folk medicine.

A close view of a manuscript, a charter granted to the college in Glasgow in 1599.

Royal College of Surgeons & Physicians of Glasgow

Founded in 1599, the RCPSG has a history spanning four centuries. The College enjoys a unique position amongst its sister Colleges in the UK in that its membership includes physicians, surgeons, dentists and specialists in the field of travel medicine.

A small wooden box sits open, with small glass jars and vials sat around it. Behind are three glass jar filled with natural objects. They are labelled: "Podophyllum", "Agar", and "Cherry bark".

Tayside Medical History Museum

Founded by volunteers in 1989, the Tayside Medical History Museum holds one of the finest collections in Scotland. Today the museum is managed by the University of Dundee Museum Services and our displays explore the history of medicine in Tayside, with a special focus on Dundee’s pioneering legacy of medical research and practice.

A photo of an anatomical model of the head showing the inside cavities of the mouth and nose.

University of Aberdeen Medical Collections

The University of Aberdeen was founded in 1495, and cares for hundreds of thousands of items relevant to past and current medicine.

A painted model of a womb that has been sectioned open. Many arteries and veins, indicated with red and blue, are visible in the outer layers. Inside are two foetuses curled up. One is facing towards the camera and the other is facing away.

University of Dundee Museum Services

The University of Dundee has a wide variety of museum collections acquired since its founding in 1881. These are cared for by Museum Services, which stages regular exhibitions in the Tower Foyer and Lamb Galleries.

University of Glasgow Library and Archives

Glasgow University’s Special Collections Department is one of the foremost resources in Scotland for academic research and teaching. Built up over a period of more than 500 years by purchase, gift and bequest, the collections now contain more than 200,000 manuscript items and around 200,000 printed works, including over 1,000 incunabula.

Three engraved stamps show different scenes of nurses. In one, a nurse greets a woman and a child. In the second, a nurse is talking to a man in a wheelchair. In the third, a nurse is standing by a table in a ward.

University of Stirling Archives

The University of Stirling Archives and Special Collections is the place of permanent deposit for the records of NHS Forth Valley. These collections includes a broad range of material related to nursing and the records of historic local hospitals.

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