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Pathology Museum, collections and galleries
The Pathology Museum is located at the West Smithfield (Bart's Hospital) site and focusses on cardiovascular, obstetrics and gynaecology, oncology and forensic medicine. There are some 5000 plus specimens and many of these can be accessed online at the Virtual PathMuseum website.
The museum is available for quiet study and can be accessed using your College i.d. card. Occasionally the museum is booked for events.
The Thomson Yates Gallery
A smaller collection of specimens, referred to as the 'Teaching Collection' is held in the Thomson Yates Gallery in the Garrod Building, Whitechapel and these can also be accessed on the Virtual PathMuseum website. The Teaching Collection is a cross-systems selection of specimens and the gallery is available for student access during the normal working day. Please ensure you do not disturb any events being held in the Old Library when using the gallery.
The Doniach Gallery
To try and bring the collection back into the teaching domain an exhibition of selected specimens has been set up in the Doniach gallery in the Garrod Building, Whitechapel. The exhibition has two purposes. First, it is a display of some of the more unusual skeletons that are held, and these have been annotated with information held in the archives. We have on display a selection of femurs that date from the mid 1800's when the most common treatment for a fractured limb was amputation and when the qualities needed for such surgery was more brawn than brains! Without anaesthetics a patient's only sedative was a healthy swig of brandy and it was the student's job to hold them down whilst the surgeon performed the 'tour de maitre' - a circular incision made with a saw that removed the limb. If all went well the broken limb would be off in 30 seconds with a 70 survival rate. Many fractures were left to set by themselves and the result would be a startling fusion of bone that is severely mismatched. These can be seen in the display.
Syphilis was a common occurrence in the closing years of the 1800’s and left untreated had a disastrous effect on skeleton structure. The syphilitic skeleton on display is one such example, and you are invited to consider why men were often reluctant to admit to having the disease.
Perhaps the most famous of skeletons that we hold is that of Joseph Merrick (otherwise known as The Elephant Man. His skeleton is displayed in the Doniach Gallery accompanied with explanatory text.
The second purpose of the exhibition is to showcase a selection of specimens from any of the sub collections such as Industrial diseases, parasitology, Oncology or neuroscience. The purpose is to encourage year two students to consider studying an aspect of pathology using the specimens and information held in archives to convey a story about the chosen subject. In the first instance a display from the forensic medicine collection has been set up with annotations that encourage the observer to consider “the wider picture” and not just explain how the victims met their end. The display of murder, mayhem and skullduggery is an example of how an SSC could work, and it is hoped to offer this from academic year 2009/10.
The Doniach Gallery is accessible through any member of staff during the working day. Unfortunately unsupervised access is not available just yet to students.
To make the museum, galleries and collections more accessible we are in the process of constructing an electronic catalogue. When complete this will augment our existing web site (see introduction above). Using the catalogue will be different as well, as we have employed bar code technology to identify the specimens. Using a hand held device students (and staff!) will be able to scan a specimen and get an instant download of catalogue details, as well as any additional information held. In due course the database powering the catalogue will hold additional material such as histological reports, images and any other useful links such as cross referencing to other specimens. This work is ongoing, and scheduled for completion in 2010 pending available finances.