From Florence Nightingale uniforms, Hitler's medication and COVID vaccinations - The Thackray Medical Museum celebrates its reopening
The Thackray Medical Museum held its reopening event after a £4m redevelopment to ensure it can tell the story of medicine in Leeds for years to come.
The museum is housed in a grade II listed building with a long history, first serving as a workhouse and later used by St James’s Hospital before its transformation into a museum.
Over the last year, once again it has played a major part in the city's history of medicine when it was temporarily turned into a COVID vaccination centre - before the refurbishment could continue.
The works have seen 11 new galleries created and sit alongside the 47,000 items of historical medical equipment and 9,000 books that fill the Thackray’s collection. Some items include Prince Albert’s personal medicine chest, complete with the original labelled bottles and Hitler’s blood transfusion set, which was kept aboard his yacht Grille in case of an emergency.
At a time when healthcare couldn’t be more relevant, Thackray wants to help visitors understand today’s healthcare challenges by presenting the evidence and knowledge of how people have met medical challenges in the past. It portrays both the successes and failures of medicine.
The museum programme offers of talks, tours, family activities, research and learning addressing issues in modern day healthcare, alongside the new galleries that reveal the innovations that have changed our lives.
Attending the event on Thursday was Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage who said: "I was delighted to support the reopening of the fascinating Thackray Museum of Medicine. We have provided the museum with over £700,000 from our Culture Recovery Fund and it's brilliant to see it showcase its magnificent new galleries to visitors. Deservedly nominated for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021 there is so much the museum can teach us about the history of medicine."
Guests were also were greeted by Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, a brass band playing club classics and medically themed canapes and drinks to kick off the event. After exploring the galleries which during the event had a magician, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Thackray volunteers and staff delivering engagement, guests were invited outside to listen to high profile cultural leaders deliver their speeches in support of the museum’s purpose, mission and resilience over the last two years.