Art and objects

Art and objects

What did the first stethoscopes look like? Who invented the ether inhaler? What were leeches used for? What did physicians wear in the past?

The Royal College of Physicians Museum was founded in the 17th century by the great English anatomist and doctor William Harvey (1578–1657). Over its long history, the RCP has collected artworks and objects which explore the history of doctoring and the contributions of its fellows and members to medicine. From apothecary jars to bleeding bowls, portraits, silver, photographs and medals – our museum collections tell the story of medicine and the doctor’s role within it. 

We welcome new donations to our museum collections. We are particularly interested in items which relate to medicine in the early NHS, the patient experience and women in medicine. To find out more on how to donate and our current collecting priorities visit our donation page.

We regularly publish blog posts about items from the RCP collections, spreading the stories of these fascinating items.

You can also search our museum catalogue and make an appointment to view items from the stores.