About the Medical Museum Collection

Museum 2

The Medical Museum collection supports our mission to stimulate, inform, and educate patients and visitors about institutional health care and health-related issues. In mounting our exhibitions we draw from our collections of artifacts, photographs, historical records, and medical equipment and instruments.

Our collections reflect the history of health care and research at UI Hospitals & Clinics, the state of Iowa, and the Midwest. The collection also reflects a focus on current health care issues. We include objects and other relevant items that are suitable for display, research, educational use, and loan.

The 5,000-plus objects in our permanent collection fall into these major categories:

  • Ophthalmology, including optical lenses, color-blindness test kits, stereoscopes, spectacles, ophthalmoscopes, and surgical instruments.
  • University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics history, including a time capsule from the first hospital building (1898), yearbooks, portraits, programs, diplomas, and journals.
  • Diagnostic Equipment, including approximately 150 items such as stethoscopes, early sphygmomanometers, microscopes, X-ray equipment, blood-glucose testing devices, and reflex hammers.
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology, including fetal stethoscopes, forceps, cranial devices, specula, ether inhalers.
  • Cardiology, including an early portable EKG, heart valves, mold for prosthetic blood vessels, and documentation of the purchase of the first EKG at UI Hospitals & Clinics in 1919.
  • Otolaryngology, including a monochord, otoscopes, bronchoscopes, and hearing aids.
  • Miscellaneous, including a 1930s examining chair used in the film "Field of Dreams," caned-seat wheelchair, syringe and hypodermic sets, examination tables, World War II first-aid kit, appointment cards, and an iron lung.
  • In addition, we have items from Anesthesiology, Homeopathic Medicine, Internal Medicine, Nursing, Orthopedics, Pathology, Pediatrics, Pharmaceuticals, Psychiatry, Radiology, Therapeutic Devices, and Urology.

The several hundred historical photographs in the collection include approximately 20 framed, original College of Medicine class portraits. Modern images include studies of medical procedures and modern equipment in use.

The manuscripts and documents collection includes approximately 330 medical and nursing texts, medical record books, physician's journals, photo albums, and more than 100 booklets and documents.

In addition, the Medical Museum has a variety of medical records from previous decades. Documentation of births, deaths, the Admission Requirements for Nurses at University Hospitals in 1908, a pamphlet from the University's dedication ceremony and much more. Some of these records are displayed in exhibitions with artifacts and instruments.