Celebrating International Museum Day

Today is International Museum Day 2020. The theme this year is 'Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion' and aims to explore and celebrate the different perspectives that make up a museum community.

To celebrate, the RCP museum team have been sharing their perspectives on our museum and would love to hear yours through our social media channels.

We asked our team what they love about the museum and what they are missing during lockdown.


Anatomical table showing adult male nervous system
Anatomical table showing adult male nervous system

Our fascinating anatomical tables

The set of six anatomical tables on display in our gallery are a favourite with staff and visitors alike.

The visually spectacular tables show the dissected nerves, veins and arteries of the human body. We don’t know exactly how they were made but they were most likely used as teaching aids for medical students. One of only two sets in existence, they are amongst the oldest surviving human anatomy preparations in Europe.

The tables were collected – and possibly made – by a physician called Sir John Finch, a 17th century professor of anatomy turned diplomat.

Tour group at architecture event
Tour group at architecture event

Giving tours

The museum has a popular regular tours programme that every member of the museum team takes part in – and we miss it.

‘I enjoy giving tours a lot, it’s such a good feeling when you finish one and know that the group have had a great time! Working from home I’m really missing being able to share the collections and exhibition and building with visitors face-to-face (my partner for some reason doesn’t want a regular potted history of medicine and the RCP…)’

– Lowri, senior curator

Rosa x alba ' Alba Maxima' The White Rose of York
Rosa x alba ' Alba Maxima' The White Rose of York, photographer Jane Knowles, head gardener

Our beautiful gardens

The roses are just coming into bloom in our gardens at the RCP headquarters. The gardens are unique with almost every one of the 1000+ species of plant linked to medicine. We all look forward to when they can be enjoyed in person again.

Until then we are lucky that head gardener Jane can share photos like this with us.

Portrait miniature of William Hunter, anatomist
Portrait miniature of William Hunter, anatomist

Beautiful items from our collections

Even the tiniest items in our collection can bring delight. We love this miniature painting of famous 18th century doctor, anatomist & ‘man-midwife’, William Hunter.

This beautiful tiny portrait is painted on enamel. Look closely and you can see how fine the brushwork is – though sadly we don’t know the artist.

‘The blue of his coat is still really vibrant and striking, and I always smile when I open the miniatures box and see this.’

– Lowri, senior curator

Rosy Perwinkle
Rosy Perwinkle Credit: Rowan McOnegal. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Joyful facts learnt about medicinal plants

Working for the museum we are always learning from the other experts at the RCP.

’A joyful fact I learnt on a tour of the RCP Garden of Medicinal Plants - since the 1950s, drugs derived from the rosy periwinkle have increased survival rates of children with leukaemia from 20% to 80%. An astounding leap of progress made within living memory.’

 – Liz, collections officer

Portrait of Theodore de Mayerne
Portrait of Theodore de Mayerne

Quirky paintings of unique physicians.

Within our collections are some fabulous paintings of members of the Royal College of Physicians past and present.

Have you seen a more luxurious home uniform? This painting of Sir Theodore de Mayerne wearing his velvet banyan and scholar’s turban shows a physician at leisure, engaged in intellectual pursuits.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of the things we love about our museum. Please do visit our social media pages to share your thoughts – we’d love to hear from you.  

Delve deeper into our collections

Library archive and museum from home: behind the scenes

Compiled by Gail Chapman, public programmes officer

'We encourage everyone to follow Public Health England Advice during the lockdown period and extend our best wishes to all of you, the NHS and all key workers.'

Gail Chapman ,
Public Programmes Officer

Read our weekly library, archive and museum blog to learn more about the RCP’s collections, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Library, Archive and Museum