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
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Anatomical image of the neck and head, Italian

Under the skin: anatomy, art and identity

  • 10 October 2019 — 3 April 2020

Peeling back the surface of existence to reveal what lies under the skin. An exhibition exploring the unsettling beauty of the human body from the medieval age to the contemporary world.

As a species we are fascinated by the contents of our complex and fragile bodies.

Throughout time physicians, surgeons, artists and printers have developed diverse techniques to represent the layers of our three-dimensional physicality. From ancient woodcuts to 21st century scans, anatomical models to sculptures, x-rays to films: all have the power to evoke feelings of delight, disgust, fascination and horror.

Following the success of acclaimed pop-up exhibition ‘Illustrating the human body’, this enlarged show features works from a dozen contemporary artists, placed alongside more than 60 rarely seen anatomical drawings, books and objects from the Royal College of Physicians’ outstanding collections, spanning over 500 years.

Together they tell the story of anatomy, provide personal and emotional reflections on medical images of the human form, and provoke questions of identity, power and consent. Whose bodies are being used, and who controls how they are depicted?

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 both medicine and art, it illustrates 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 scroll 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.

Providing a current perspective on the medical objects, and contemplating our complex relationship to our bodies today, are contemporary artists Andrew Carnie, Amanda Couch, Adelaide Damoah, Tamsin van Essen, Bee Flowers, Rebecca D Harris, Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley, Sofie Layton, Lucy Lyons, Liz Orton, Angela Palmer, and Ruth Uglow.

Their works in a range of media from glass to ceramic, performance to sculpture complete this unique exploration of the human body in art and medicine.


10 October 2019 – 03 April 2020
9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday only

Open late to 8pm on Thursday 10 0ctober, 07 November and 05 December 2019, plus 09 January, 06 February, 06 March and 02 April 2020.

Please see website for details of exhibition opening, special events and additional closure days

Suitable for

  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+

Admission

FREE

Open late to 8pm on Thursday 10 0ctober, 07 November and 05 December 2019, plus 09 January, 06 February, 06 March and 02 April 2020.

Website

https://history.rcplondon.ac.uk/event/under-skin-anatomy-art-and-identity

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.
The interior of the Censor's Room at the Royal College of Physicians

Museum Lates at the Royal College of Physicians

  • 10 October 2019 5-8pm
  • 7 November 2019 5-8pm
  • 5 December 2019 5-8pm

Visit the Royal College of Physicians Museum after hours until 8pm on the first Thursday of the month. Explore exhibitions, art, medical objects and more than 500 years of history at England's oldest medical college.
Discover collections, featuring everything from artworks by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir Thomas Lawrence and Dame Elisabeth Frink, to scarce anatomical preparations and extraordinary medical instruments, all housed in a grade 1 listed ‘modernist masterpiece’ designed by acclaimed architect Sir Denys Lasdun. See free temporary exhibitions from our award-winning team, and join a curator-led tour.
Free 30 minute exhibition tours start at 6pm, book online now to reserve your place.
For details of the changing monthly programme of drop-in activities, talks and workshops click here to check the Royal College of Physicians website

Highlights of any visit include:
• priceless portraits and silver displayed throughout the building
• medical rarities such as the Symons collection of self-care instruments and medical apparatus, the Hoffbrand collection of apothecary jars and the Prujean chest of surgical tools from the era of the English Civil War
• a remarkable set of 17th-century human remains, providing a fascinating insight into dissection and discovery in anatomy
• regular displays from our archive and rare books collections
• a changing programme of acclaimed temporary exhibitions

Forthcoming Museum Lates:
• Thursday 1 August 2019
• Thursday 5 September 2019
• Thursday 10 October 2019 (one week later than usual)
• Thursday 7 November 2019
• Thursday 5 December 2019

Suitable for

  • 11-13
  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+

Admission

Free
Please book your place on our curator led tour online

Website

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/royal-college-of-physicians-museum-late-tickets-43304597216

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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