Our collection is particularly strong in European surgical instruments from the 1600s to the present day, and instrument makers’ patterns dating from the late 1800s.
We also collect equipment supplied to and used by healthcare providers, including hospital and dental equipment, and we have an important collection of British anaesthetic equipment.
There is a representative collection of mainly British first-aid equipment and domestic medicine, and a small collection of British patent medicines and quack cures. The Museum collects medals, tokens and coins with medical links.
We also hold a nationally significant collection of hearing aids and audiology equipment, including the British Society of Audiology collection.
Amongst the jewels of the Museum’s collections are over 600 ceramic drug jars that were donated to us by Dr. John Frederick Wilkinson.
The jars date from the 1500s-1800s and would have been used by pharmacists to store medicine and ingredients.
Dr. Wilkinson assembled his collection over a period of 40 years and achieved the largest collection of English pharmacy jars in the world. It includes 400 English drug jars and 200 from Italy and elsewhere.
The entire collection is on permanent display at the Museum.
The Museum has a small archive relating to the healthcare industry. The archive includes 20th century material from the Thackray medical supply company and other medical supply firms, as well as a collection of pre-NHS pharmacy prescription books dating to the 1800s.
There is also a small but interesting collection of photographs showing public health problems in Leeds, 1930 – 1970.
The Medical History Resource Centre provides access to the Museum’s collection of over 40,000 objects and its library of 15,000 books and catalogues about medicine, healthcare and their histories.
Anyone can make an appointment to use the library and resource centre. There is a computerised catalogue where you can access information about books and objects from the Museum’s collection. Information about other library collections is available on microfiche.
We cannot lend items to the general public, but a photocopying and photography service is available for a small fee. Our friendly and experienced staff will be pleased to help you find the resources you need.
Our staff are available by appointment to identify historical medical items (normally free of charge). A search service is also available; please contact us for a list of charges.
The resource centre is open from 10am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, except for bank holidays and staff holidays. To make the most of your visit booking is essential, so please call us on 0113 244 4343 to make an appointment.