For those interested in medical history – a museum with a difference

Take a step back in time and explore the history of medicine, dentistry, ophthalmology and pharmacy through the ages at the Adler Museum of Medicine located at Wits Medical School, 7 York Road, Parktown.    The Museum was established in 1962 by Dr Cyril and Mrs Esther Adler who together collected a truly remarkable private collection of medical and pharmacological memorabilia. The Museum today forms part of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.   Items of historical interest on display include microscopes and other scientific instruments; early bleeding and cupping equipment with an exquisitely crafted incision knife; ceramic pharmacy jars dating back to the 17th century; an exquisite collection of bone china and ceramic feeding cups, some dating from the 18th and 19th centuries; an early 19th century wooden handled amputation set in a wooden case; diagnostic and surgical instruments; treatment apparatus such as one advertised as ‘Patent magnetic electrical machine for nervous diseases’ used by Queen Victoria to ease her rheumatism (19th century) and the first electrocardiograph machine (1917) used in the Johannesburg General Hospital; a chloroform bottle and mask in leather case used as an anaesthetic in early operations; ear trumpets and brass ear syringes (early 20th century); a collection of rare iron lungs (20th century), hospital and nursing equipment and medical ephemera.  There are reconstructions of an early 20th century Johannesburg pharmacy, a dental surgery, a doctor’s consulting room, an optometry display and a hospital operating theatre of the same period. The optometry display contains an early 19th century refraction testing set and a collection of old spectacles. A history of scientific medicine is augmented with displays of several alternative modalities practised in South Africa: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Unani/Tibb, Ayurveda, Western Herbal Medicine and Homoeopathy.  An important stream of medicine in Africa, traditional healing, is showcased in the Museum with displays of an African herb shop and a patient consulting a sangoma (traditional healer).
Temporary exhibitions held annually include History of Malaria, History of Tuberculosis, Advances in Cardiology and Asbestos-related lung diseases.
The Museum arranges regular public lectures, tours and temporary exhibitions on various subjectsThe Museum is open Mondays to Fridays from 09:00 to 16:00. Closed on weekends and public holidays, 24 December to 4 January. After hours by appointment.

Contact Details:
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
7 York Road, Parktown, 2193
Tel: 011 717-2067
Fax: 0865532483
Url: Details:

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