Past exhibitions

around the world: medical journeys throughout the ages

Monday 20th August 2018 – Saturday 3rd November 2018.

Around The World Website Image

Join us to explore an exclusive range of journals, logs and records that date back to the 1700s. Follow voyages of world renowned physicians, surgeons, and nurses and experience the discoveries that have shaped our understanding of medicine first hand. 

Exhibition Booklet





the appointed day, july 5th 1948: an exhibition at the library of the royal society of medicine to mark 70 years of the nhs.

Monday 30th April 2018 – Saturday 11th August 2018.

 NHS70“i beg to move that this house takes note that the appointed day for the national health service has been fixed for july 5th; welcomes the coming into force on that date of this measure which offers to all sections of the community comprehensive medical care and treatment and lays for the first time a sound foundation for the health of the people; and is satisfied that the conditions under which all the professions concerned are invited to participate are generous and fully in accord with their traditional freedom and dignity.”

Aneurin Bevan’s speech to the House of Commons, 9 February 1948.

Exhibition Booklet


a georgian miscellany: medicine 1713 - 1768

Thursday 15th February - Saturday 21st April 2018

Georgian Exhibtion 002

2018 sees the 250th anniversary of the death of the clergyman and author Laurence Sterne. Following the success of Shandy’s Physicians, an exhibition held at the RSM Library in 2013 to mark the tercentenary of Sterne’s birth, A Georgian Miscellany: Medicine 1713 – 1768 celebrates the medical world of Sterne’s time with an exhibition of texts from the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Exhibition Booklet 


this little pamphlet: an exhibition at the library of the royal society of medicine to mark the bicentenary of james parkinson’s essay on the shaking palsy.

Monday 6th November 2017 until Wednesday 7th February 2018

This Little Pamphlet

“The reader will now perceive, that this little pamphlet is highly worthy of perusal, and deserves the attention of the medical public.”

The Medico-Chirurgical Journal and Review 1817; 4: 401-408.

The physician and geologist James Parkinson (1755 – 1824) was a Fellow of the Medical & Chirurgical Society, the forerunner Society to the Royal Society of Medicine. His signature appears in the obligation book of the MCS. The minutes of the Medical & Chirurgical Society meeting held on November 25th, 1817 records James Parkinson’s donation to the Society of a copy of his Essay on the Shaking Palsy. The 1817 volume of the Medico-Chirurgical Transactions also records this fact, and it is listed in the 1844 printed catalogue of the Library of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London.

In his book on Parkinson, Christopher Gardner-Thorpe lists the RSM Library as holding one of the six copies said still to be in existence. We do, in fact, hold two copies. It is not known whether one of them is the copy donated by Parkinson. The copies displayed in this exhibition were entered in the RSM Library accessions register on 25th January 1929, and were described as “purchased” although with no indication as to where or from whom.

This exhibition affords a chance to display these very rare items alongside works referred to in the Essay by Parkinson as well as early citations and reviews of this little, ground-breaking, pamphlet.

Exhibition Booklet


restoration for research 2: book conservation at the RSM Library

Monday 7th August until Saturday 28th October 2017

Restoration For Research 2

This exhibition is a follow up to our 2013 exhibition Restoration for Research. 

We want to highlight the book conservation work of the library especially that of our conservation volunteers who each attend fortnightly and help keep out books in good enough condition to handle. 

In addition to the volunteers, we use money raised from the Friends of the Library to pay for professional book-binding. 

Exhibition Booklet


the mesmerist: john elliotson (1791-1868) 

Monday 8th May until Saturday 29th July 2017

The Mesmerist

The exhibition tells the story of John Elliotson and his battle to promote mesmerism – hypnotism as it was later renamed – in the face of furious opposition from the medical establishment and medical press.  Elliotson was President of the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London in 1833, and it was during his term of office that the Society was granted a Royal Charter to become, in 1834, the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society.

Exhibition Booklet


attachment: our enduring need for others 

Monday 6th February until Friday 28th April 2017


enduring need

The Bowlby Centre, in collaboration with Royal Society of Medicine, are proud to present a unique exhibition on Attachment inspired by the life and work of Honorary Fellow John Bowlby, the founder of Attachment Theory.

This intimate exhibition presents seldom-seen letters and photographs from the John Bowlby Archive at the Wellcome Library. The material has been thoughtfully curated to trace our understanding of the universal need for others across the lifespan and how this develops in a cultural and social context.


sir morell mackenzie, a lifetime in laryngology 

Monday 7th November until Saturday 28th January 2017



The RSM Library has compiled an exhibition on Mackenzie, the father of British laryngology. Featuring books, journals, illustrations, and contemporary documents, this exhibition documents Mackenzie’s life and career, and the devastating aftermath of his part in the diagnosis  of Crown Prince Friedrich. The exhibition’s chief curator and researcher is David Springall, Senior Associate Member of the RSM, and a relative, through marriage, of Mackenzie.

Exhibition Booklet

Treasures from the Chalmers library


In 1922 the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine received a generous gift of around 1800 rare books presented by the widow of the late Dr Albert J. Chalmers, a doctor specialising in tropical diseases and the co-author with Aldo Castellani of the “Manual of Tropical Medicine.” Dr Chalmers was a true bibliophile and among the books donated from his collection are Geminus’ Compendiosa, published in 1553, Brunschwig’s Liber de arte distillandi (1500), Celsus’ De medicina (1478), and the oldest book in our collection, Mesue’s Opera published in 1471. These books and several more will be on display at the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine from 1 August until 29 October as part of an exhibition of Treasures from the Chalmers Library.

Exhibition Booklet

Charcot, hysteria, & la Salpetriere


A Royal Society of Medicine Library exhibition on Jean Martin Charcot. The exhibition explores Charcot’s work at the Salpêtrière Hospital and his ground-breaking work on the affliction of Hysteria. Born in Paris in 1825. The son of a coach-maker, he was appointed physician to the Salpêtrière Hospital in 1862 and remained there for the rest of his professional life. 

Exhibition Booklet


The Dublin doctors

Dublin Doctors

The Dublin Doctors is an exhibition at the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine. It describes and celebrates the many advances to medical science made by the 19th century surgeons and physicians of Dublin. The practice of medicine was then inevitably involved with the troubled history of Ireland and her aspirations to nationhood. The physicians featured in the exhibition are Robert Graves, William Stokes, John Cheyne, Robert Adams, Abraham Colles, Dominic Corrigan, and Sir William Wilde.

Exhibition Booklet

The happiest man: Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682)

The Happiest Man

“I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity, and I am more invulnerable than Achilles; Fortune hath not one place to hit me.” So wrote the physician and author Sir Thomas Browne in his Religio Medici, first published in 1642.

Admired by Johnson, Hazlitt, De Quincey, Osler and, more recently, by authors such as W.G. Sebald and Javier Marias, Browne was described by his bibliographer the surgeon and literary scholar Geoffrey Keynes as “one of the greatest of English prose writers.”

This exhibition will display various editions of Browne’s works held in the library, as well as a cast of Browne’s skull and the story of how the Society came to own it.

Exhibition Booklet

the root of life: a history of the heart

The Root of Life

Coinciding with the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress to be held in London (29 August – 2 September 2015) this exhibition displays historic and rare books from the RSM Library concerning the anatomy and physiology of the h
eart as well as advances in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. 
The exhibition features works by Harvey, Lower, Senac, Corvisart, Withering, Farre, Peacock, Parry, Heberden, Bouillard, MacKenzie, Hope, Stokes, Latham and Burns. 

Exhibition Booklet

Medicine in the year of Waterloo

Medicine in WaterlooMedicine in the Year of Waterloo commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo with a display of books by military surgeons and physicians including Sir James McGrigor, Baron Larrey, Charles Bell, John Thomson, John Hennen, and George Guthrie, “the English Larrey.”

Exhibition Booklet


Freud the Physician

Freud the physicianOrganised jointly by the Royal Society of Medicine and the Freud Museum, London, this exhibition will explore and celebrate the pre-psychoanalytical career of Sigmund Freud. Long before Freud coined the term psychoanalysis in 1896 and developed a profound new body of psychological theory and technique, he had distinguished himself as a young scientific researcher and physician. Between 1876 and 1895, Freud made numerous contributions to various branches of medicine and biology, including, physiology, anatomy, histology, anaesthetics, paediatrics, and neurology. The exhibition will include a display of rare books, unpublished letters, certificates, and journals from the collections of the RSM Library and the Freud Museum.

Exhibition Booklet

Exhibition Video


Richard Asher (1912 - 1969): a celebration

Richard AsherAn exhibition at the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine. This exhibition is on from Monday 3 November 2014 until Saturday 24 January 2015.

Exhibition Booklet

Exhibition Video



“All engrossing, all-devouring war…” 

All engrossing war“All engrossing, all-devouring war…” An exhibition at the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine to mark the centenary of the 1914-1918 War. This exhibition looks at the medical consequences of the First World War and the part played by the Royal Society of Medicine in the war effort.

Exhibition Booklet

Exhibition Video


Most Wholesome Physic: Medicine in the Age of Shakespeare 1564-1616

Most Wholsome PhysicsAn exhibition at the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare.

Exhibition Booklet

Exhibition Video



Vesalius 500

Vesalius 500An exhibition at the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine to mark the quincentenary of the anatomist Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564).

Exhibition Booklet

Exhibition Video



Shandy's physicians

Tristram shandyShandy’s Physicians is an exhibition to mark the tercentenary of Laurence Sterne (1713-1768), clergyman and author of The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Running from 4 November 2013 – 25 January 2014, this exhibition consists of a display of books from the library of the Royal Society of Medicine illustrating aspects of Sterne’s life and the many references to the medical literature in Sterne’s novel Tristram Shandy first published in nine volumes from 1759 to 1767.

Exhibition Booklet

Exhibition Video