Permanent display planned at former infirmary birthplace of the British Medical Association

By Culture24 Staff | 20 January 2011
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The University of Worcester's City Campus
Hundreds of rare books and medical instruments will be put on show in a £537,000 display in a ward of the infirmary birthplace of British medicine in Worcester.

The former Worcester Royal Infirmary, which is now part of the University of Worcester’s City Campus, was the location of the founding of the British Medical Association by Sir Charles Hastings in 1832.

It will reveal a vast collection from the infirmary and across Worcestershire, including artefacts from the city’s George Marshall Medical Museum, in the new Lottery-funded Museum@WRI development.

A computer-generated graphic of a museum
Talking beds and examples of wards will feature in the display
“This is a really exciting project that will allow us to display many of our collections for the first time,” said Catriona Smellie, the Curator at the George Marshall Medical Museum, which is based at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

“We have books going back to the 1600s, collections of medical equipment, and some of the artefacts found during the renovations of the site, such as old postcards and letters belonging to the nurses that lived and worked here.

“The exhibition will include a lively interactive area, which will link the history of medicine to contemporary medical issues such as obesity and mental illness.

“The exhibition will also celebrate the history of the WRI in the Worcester community, and the stories of people who worked and were treated there during 300 years.”

Talking beds and examples of traditional wards will feature in the display, which is expected to open by the end of 2011 under designs by Bristol-based 3D museum and gallery designer Simon Fenn.

Visitors will be encouraged to give their views on issues such as stem cell research and share their memories of the infirmary, and planners said there would also be an emphasis on education, work placements, volunteering and community outreach programmes.

“This new exhibition will enable people of all ages to take part in and learn about this extraordinary heritage,” said Anne Jenkins, the Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the West Midlands.

“As one of the first cities outside London to found a voluntary hospital in the 18th century, Worcester has a rich historical legacy charting the development of healthcare provision over the past 300 years.”
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