Medicine & Health

The Medicine and Health Collection tells both historical and contemporary stories of Australian and Victorian medicine, medical research and public health from a Western perspective. It concerns itself with scientific, social and cultural factors which affect our definitions of humans and human health and wellbeing. The key collection themes are domestic medicine, general medical practice, clinical work, dentistry, medical research, mental health, pharmacy and public health. The collection of 8,000 items is mainly made up of objects, but also contains images and a handful of oral histories.


The first set of medical objects acquired for the Industrial and Technological Museum were the F.J. Clendinnen collection of X-ray materials in 1916. More focused collecting of items did not begin until the 1980s resulting in the acquisition of some key collections of both national and international significance over the past 40 years. These include: the Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop Collection containing tools from his post-war surgical practice; the Psychiatric Services Collection which appears to be the biggest and most diverse collection of its kind in the world; the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) collection which contains examples of some of the world's earliest batches of mass-produced penicillin and antivenoms for Australian snake bites; the Bionic Ear Collection which contains prototypes and early models; and the Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital Collection.