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Introduction

"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 (c1822) 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 was 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, extrapulmonary 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.
1899 Maude Abbott is appointed Curator of the McGill Medical Museum.
1906 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 moves from Strathcona building. Abbott continues as curator of “Central” Medical Museum at Strathcona.
1932 Abbott’s museum becomes the Medical History Museum.
1940 Abbott dies; the Medical History Museum is dissolved and specimens are discarded or moved to Pathological Institute.
1947 Pathological Institute Museum renovated to create laboratory space; specimens moved to basement teaching room.
1965 Basement teaching room converted to laboratory space; specimens moved to storage or teaching cubicles
1996 Last museum teaching specimens are moved to storage in Pathological Institute basement.
2006

Exhibit recreating Abbott's Museum is mounted at the 100th Anniversary Congress of the International Academy of Pathology (formerly the IAMM).

2012

The “Maude Abbott Medical Museum” is officially constituted by McGill University.

2013

Museum moves from the Duff Pathological Building to the Strathcona Anatomy and Dentistry Building.