Medical artifacts, apparatus and instruments comprise the bulk of the material in the Museum’s collections. Over 7,000 medical artifacts spanning centuries of worldwide medical history, from acupuncture to X-ray therapy, are represented in the collections.

Among the exceptional artifacts are an Austrian amputation saw with reversible blade (c. 1500); original X-rays taken by radiology pioneer Emil Grubbé (c. 1910); the Lindbergh perfusion pump, which enabled doctors to keep organs functioning outside the body, invented by the renowned aviator Charles Lindbergh and Nobel Prize-winning surgeon Alexis Carrel (1935); and a unique collection of trephined skulls from ancient Peru.

Fine art is featured in the collections through over 600 paintings, prints and sculptures, primarily portraits of individuals and historical depictions of specific procedures or events. Highlights include a portrait of Dr. Edward Jenner by John Russell (1790), and a plaster cast made from the death mask of Napoleon (1821). Significant artworks were commissioned by the Museum for the collection in 1950-53 including the Hall of Immortals and Hall of Murals.  The Italian painter Gregorio Calvi di Bergolo (1904-1994) was commissioned in 1953 to paint 12 mural panels in oils for this room to illustrate the development of surgery throughout the ages. The Museum’s Hall of Immortal statues are attributed to sculptors Louis Linck and Édouard Chassaing.

The Museum is in the process of digitizing is collection and archive. Please contact us to inquire about specific holdings.

Experience the fascinating world of surgical history and innovation at the International Museum of Surgical Science! Immerse yourself in our unique exhibits, interactive displays, and educational programs that captivate visitors of all ages. Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind experience in Chicago. Purchase your tickets now and embark on an unforgettable journey through the evolution of surgical science. Secure your spot today by visiting our admission tickets page. Join us and be inspired by the incredible advancements in medicine and surgery!