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Object Collections

We hold a unique and fascinating collection of medical instruments and historical curiosities, dating from the 17th century to the present. These items reflect the development of the College and the medical profession over time and shed light on to the personal lives of some of our members.

 

At present there is no online catalogue of our object collections. If you are interested in finding out more about what we hold or would like to make an appointment to see an object please contact us at heritagecentre@rcpi.ie or on +353 (0) 1 6698817.

What’s in the object collections?

The objects we hold largely fall into four main categories.

Medical Instruments and Materia Medica

We hold a significant collection of medical instruments dating from the 18th century onwards, showing the development of medical technology over time. We also hold a collection of material medica samples, some of which were used by the College to train apothecaries and doctors.

In 2019 we accepted, on loan, a large collection of instruments from the former Reads Cutlers and Instrument Makers shop. Based on Parliament Street in Dublin, they were one of the leading makers and retailers of medical instruments in Ireland for over two centuries.

Kirkpatrick, Thomas Percy Claude (portrait) b

Portraits and Artworks

Our collections of portraits, busts and statues represent some of the most notable figures in Irish medicine, including many past Presidents of the College.

We also collect artworks representing the medical profession and its role in society more generally.

Ceremony and Commemoration

We look after the College’s collection of silverware, most notably our mace, designed by Sir Frederic William Burton and made from Irish silver by West & Co in 1860.  The collection also includes items given to the College to mark special occasions and the Presidential chair given to us in 1865.

Historical Curiosities

We hold many items of historical interest relating to our members and medicine more widely. These include the suit worn by College President Andrew Horne when he received a knighthood and a table from Dun’s Hospital carved with the names of generations of medical students. Other historical curiosities include a tray carved by Countess Markievicz and, most famously of all, Napoleon’s toothbrush.

Donations

Offers of donations to the collections are always appreciated, it you have any material you think might be of interest please contact us at heritagecentre@rcpi.ie or on +353 (0) 1 6698817.  You can find out more about the process and our collecting priorities on the donations page.

Harriet Wheelock

Keeper of Collections

Tel: +353 1 669 8817

Harriet is Keeper of Collection and manages the RCPI Heritage Centre. Contact Harriet with any questions about the Heritage Centre, its collection and to make an appointment to visit.