The fine and decorative art collection preserve the splendour of our 500 year old organisation. They tell us how physicians saw themselves and the world around them in both the past and present.
The museum collection holds an internationally significant collection of over 5,000 oil paintings, drawings and sculptures. They are mainly portraits of college presidents, fellows and individuals associated with the history of medicine and the RCP from its foundation in 1518 to the present day. In 1596 the RCP announced that any member or 'noble person' could display his portrait or coat of arms on payment of £10. Unfortunately, almost all the early portraits were lost when the RCP was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. From the 18th century a deliberate policy of building up the portrait collections began, but it was not until the 1940s that a portrait of every out-going president had been commissioned after their term of office. We continue to collect and commission contemporary works of art and portraiture which relate to personalities from medicine past and present.