"The organized museum is to general pathology what the autopsy room is to medicine, what the dissection room is to anatomy, what—to go further afield—traveling to see new countries is to the study of geography."
Maude Abbott. The Museum in Medical Teaching. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1905
The Museum collection originated around the time of the founding of the Montreal General Hospital (1822) and the Montreal Medical Institute (1823/24) (the forerunner of the McGill University Medical Faculty). In fact, the most famous artifact in the collection is the Holmes heart, a specimen procured at autopsy in 1822 by Dr. Andrew Holmes, first Dean of Medicine at McGill. A significant proportion of the specimens in the Museum were gathered in the late 1800s and early 1900s, including several hundred by William Osler during the eight years he spent as pathologist at the Montreal General Hospital. Many illustrate diseases or disease processes, such as syphilis, extra pulmonary tuberculosis, rickets and congenital cardiac anomalies, encountered uncommonly today in an untreated state in “developed” countries.
Highlights of the Museum
|1822||Opening of the Montreal General Hospital. The Holmes heart—one of the first museum specimens—is acquired.|
|1876||William Osler becomes pathologist at the Montreal General Hospital.|
|1898||Maude Abbott is appointed Assistant Curator of the McGill Medical Museum.|
|1906||Maude Abbott, James Carroll and James McCallum found the International Association of Medical Museums in Washington, DC.|
|1907||Fire destroys much of the McGill Medical Museum.|
|1909||Strathcona Medical Building opens with new museum space for Anatomy and Pathology collections.|
|1923||Pathological Institute opens; pathology teaching and museum activity soon moves from Strathcona building. Abbott continues as curator of “Central” Medical Museum at Strathcona.|
|1932||Abbott’s museum becomes the Medical History Museum.|
|1940||After Abbott’s death in 1940, the Medical History Museum is dissolved and specimens are discarded or moved to Pathological Institute.|
|1965||Pathological Institute Museum renovated to create laboratory space.|
|1996||Last museum teaching specimens are moved to storage in Pathological Institute basement.|
|2005||Exhibit of restored specimens donated by the Army Medical Museum after the 1907 fire is mounted at the McGill Osler Library.|
Exhibit recreating Abbott's Museum is mounted at the 100th Anniversary Congress of the International Academy of Pathology (formerly the IAMM).
The “Maude Abbott Medical Museum” is officially constituted by McGill University.