Royal College of Physicians

Royal College of Physicians - interior
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The Royal College of Physicians is the oldest medical college in England. Since our foundation by royal charter of Henry VIII in 1518, the RCP has built up magnificent collections of books, manuscripts, portraits, silver, and medical artefacts.

Visit us to experience extraordinary historical and ceremonial spaces set inside a radically modern building created by Sir Denys Lasdun in 1964.

Our portrait galleries reveal eminent physicians by some of Britain's greatest artists. Our silver collection has been used for centuries in ceremonies and fine dining. Our medical instrument collections include early stethoscopes, bleeding tools, apothecary jars and a rare set of 17th century human remains - our anatomical tables.

Guided tours can be booked in advance for groups of 6+.

Venue Type:

Gallery, Museum

Opening hours

Mon-Fri 9.00-17.00

Closed: Public holidays and ceremonial days - see website for details

Admission charges

Free

Getting there

The Royal College of Physicians is located next to Regent's Park in the centre of London. It is easily accessible by all forms of transport.

The main entrance can be reached by approaching the Outer Circle from Park Square East and the A501 Marylebone Road.

By underground:
Regent's Park Station on the Bakerloo line (3 minutes' walk)
Great Portland Street Station on the Circle, Metropolitan and City lines (5 minutes' walk)
Warren Street Station on the Victoria and Northern lines (10 minutes' walk)

By train:
Euston Station (15 minutes' walk)
King's Cross Station (5 minutes by taxi)
St Pancras Station - Eurostar terminal (5 minutes by taxi)
Marylebone Station (5 minutes by taxi)

By road:
From the north: A4201 Albany Street from A41 North, the M1, A1, M40 and M25
From the east: A501 Euston Road from A13 East, the M25, the M20 and the M2
From the west: A501 Marylebone Road from A40 Westway, the M4 Heathrow and the M25
From the south: A4201 Portland Place from Westminster and the A23, M25 and M23 Gatwick

The collections of the Royal College of Physicians relate to the history of the College and the history of the Physician’s profession. They include; portraits, silver, medals, medical artefacts and instruments. They are on display throughout the College's building.

The portraits form a record of the most eminent figures in the history of medicine from the 16th century to the present day. We hold 350 oil portraits and 4000 prints. The collection includes outstanding pieces such as the busts of Baldwin Hamey Junior (1600-1676) by Edward Pierce and Richard Mead (1673-1754) by Louis François Roubiliac. Major painters represented include Godfrey Kneller, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Hudson, Johann Zoffany and Thomas Lawrence.

The silver collection reflects events in College history as well as the lives and generosity of its Fellows and Members. Few pieces pre-date the Great Fire of London in 1666 because of a robbery during the previous year. Baldwin Hamey’s inkstand bell and William Harvey’s demonstration rod are two of the pieces that survive. Many pieces of silver are ‘working’ objects and are used to this day for formal occasions in the College. Special objects include the President’s staff of office, the silver caduceus and the silver-gilt College mace.

The College also owns six seventeenth century anatomical tables, made by drying and mounting the blood vessels and nerves of the human body onto blocks of wood which were then varnished and used as a teaching aid for the study of anatomy. The Symons Collection of medical instruments began as a group of objects relating to self-care in Georgian times and expanded to include items that would have been used by physicians when treating patients in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

For further information go to www.rcplondon.ac.uk/museum-and-garden

Collection details

Archives, Coins and Medals, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Medicine, Personalities, Science and Technology, Social History

Key artists and exhibits

  • medical instruments
  • anatomy
  • medicine
  • physician
  • Doctor
  • William Hunter
  • William Harvey
Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Illustration of the cardiac nerves of the right side in Tabulae neurologicae ad illustrandam historiam anatomicam cardiacorum nervorum. Dissected and drawn by Antonio Scarpa and engraved by Faustino Anderloni. Published Pavia, 1794. © Royal College of Physicians, photography by Mike Fear.

Under the skin: illustrating the human body

  • 1 February — 15 March 2019

Peeling back the surface of human existence to reveal what lies under the skin. This new ‘pop-up’ exhibition explores the art and science of anatomical illustration from the medieval world to the present day.

As a species we are fascinated by the contents of our complex and fragile bodies. Throughout time physicians, surgeons, artists and printers have developed tools and techniques to identify and understand what is hidden inside the human form, from ancient woodcuts to contemporary three-dimensional imaging.

The results – masterpieces of artistry and technology – capture the beautiful and unsettling shapes, structures and textures of organs, bones and tissues. Rarely seen drawings, books and objects from the Royal College of Physicians outstanding library, archive and museum collections go on public display in this unique show.

Some of the many highlights of the exhibition include a complete edition of Andreas Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, published in Basel in 1543. One of the most famous books in the history of medicine and of art, it depicts the human body with a level of detail, accuracy and creative flair completely unknown before. Nearby, a 17th century work published in London has a flayed man standing as if still alive, holding up his own skin, the features of his face still clearly visible on the ghost-like surface.

A Japanese print from 1820 delineates the internal organs alongside a representation of acupuncture points relating to key systems of the body. From Victorian Scotland comes a startling photographic image of 1893 showing a horizontal cross section of the human brain, seeming to visually presage the scans of modern age.

Running for six weeks only from 1st February 2019, and accompanied by a programme of events and late openings, this thrilling exhibition provides a rare glimpse into the astonishing story of anatomy, and centuries of human attempts to understand the mysteries of our bodies.

Suitable for

  • 11-13
  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+

Admission

01 February to 15 March 2019
9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday only
Open late to 8pm on Thursday 7 February 2019 and Thursday 7 March 2019
Please see website for details of special opening event and additional closure days

Getting there

The Royal College of Physicians is located next to Regent's Park in the centre of London. It is easily accessible by all forms of transport.

The main entrance can be reached by approaching the Outer Circle from Park Square East and the A501 Marylebone Road.

By underground:
Regent's Park Station on the Bakerloo line (3 minutes' walk)
Great Portland Street Station on the Circle, Metropolitan and City lines (5 minutes' walk)
Warren Street Station on the Victoria and Northern lines (10 minutes' walk)

By train:
Euston Station (15 minutes' walk)
King's Cross Station (5 minutes by taxi)
St Pancras Station - Eurostar terminal (5 minutes by taxi)
Marylebone Station (5 minutes by taxi)

By road:
From the north: A4201 Albany Street from A41 North, the M1, A1, M40 and M25
From the east: A501 Euston Road from A13 East, the M25, the M20 and the M2
From the west: A501 Marylebone Road from A40 Westway, the M4 Heathrow and the M25
From the south: A4201 Portland Place from Westminster and the A23, M25 and M23 Gatwick

Royal College of Physicians
11 St. Andrews Place
Regent's Park
London
Greater London
NW1 4LE
England

Website

http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/museum-and-garden

E-mail

history@rcplondon.ac.uk

Telephone

0203 075 1543

Fax

020 7486 3729

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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