Step inside the strange world of medical museums

This summer three of London’s medical royal colleges have joined together to open their doors to the public.

Visitors to the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists will have the opportunity to explore Grade I listed buildings, discover fascinating exhibitions and uncover nearly 500 years of medical history.

The three colleges are some of London’s most fascinating hidden gems and all situated on the city’s picturesque Regent’s Park. Visitors can walk between all three venues whilst enjoying the gardens, lake, and John Nash-designed terraces which line the park.

The three institutions are responsible for setting standards of medical practice and house a wealth of medical archives and artefacts stretching back as far as the time of Henry VIII.

Architectural splendour

Those with an appreciation of architecture will have the opportunity to explore three very distinct buildings. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is situated opposite the lake in Regent’s Park. Built in the late 1950s, the brick and Portland stone was designed to harmonise with the Nash terraces, whilst the Royal College of Ophthalmologists is housed in a Grade I listed Victorian terrace designed by Decimus Burton (1800-1881). In stark contrast, the Royal College of Physicians’ iconic and provocative 1964 building is a modernist masterpiece designed by Sir Denys Lasdun (1914-2001), and is one of a handful of post-war buildings to achieve Grade I status.

Learn more about the architecture of the RCP

Explore free exhibitions

In addition to their permanent collections, all three of the royal colleges are hosting free exhibitions. The Royal College of Physician’s Curious Anatomys exhibition charts the history of public dissections and centres on six 17th Century anatomical tables which feature human veins, nerves and arteries that have been cut from dissected bodies and varnished onto wooden panels. The Royal College of Physicians is also home to an acclaimed medicinal garden which features over 1,200 plants associated with conventional medicine, herbal medicine and medical figures.

Find more information on the RCP's Curious Anatomys exhibition

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ exhibition focuses on the changes in antenatal care and advice received in the years in which London played host to the Olympics. Experiencing Pregnancy,1908, 1948 and 2012 draws on rarely seen treasures from the museum, archive and historic book collection, plus the newly available collections of the Royal College of Midwives.

Visitors to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists will learn about great advances that have been made in the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the UK today – the cataract operation. The exhibition is the first of its kind at the College and will be the first time the Royal College of Ophthalmologists has been open for general admission.

All three of the royal colleges are within easy walking distance of each another, with Regent’s Park, Baker Street and Great Portland Street underground stations all less than 10 minutes away.

The Royal College of Physicians is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists are open every Tuesday and Thursday, 2pm to 4pm from 31 July to 30 August.

Visit the museum and garden pages of the RCP website

 

For further information, please contact Andrew McCracken, RCP Communications and New Media Adviser, on +44 (0)203 075 1354 / 07990 745 608, or email andrew.mccracken@rcplondon.ac.uk

Notes to editors

  • Both the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Obstetricians Gynaecologists have step-free access. Regrettably, there is no step-free access at the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Venue details

Royal College of Physicians
11 St Andrews Place, London NW1 4LE
020 3075 1543 / history@rcplondon.ac.uk
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, appointments required for groups of six or more (step-free access)

Royal College of Ophthalmologists
17 Cornwall Terrace, London NW1 4QW
020 7772 6309 / library@rcog.org.uk
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 to 4pm, 31 July to 30 August inclusive (no step-free access)

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
27 Sussex Place, London NW1 4RG
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 to 4pm, 31 July to 30 August inclusive (step-free access)