Wellcome Museum of Medical Science

  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Administrative records of the Museum.

Some material in this collection has not been catalogued yet. For descriptions of this material see the 'Accruals' section.



Physical description

42 boxes | Uncatalogued: 229 items


WA/MMS/AD/Cor Correspondence
WA/MMS/AD/Cor/5 General Correspondence
WA/MMS/AD/Cur Curator's Papers
WA/MMS/AD/Cur/1 Andrew Balfour
WA/MMS/AD/Cur/2 Sidney Daukes
WA/MMS/AD/Cur/3 C J Hackett
WA/MMS/AD/Cur/4 Colonel A Bozman
WA/MMS/AD/Cur/5 Antony Duggan
WA/MMS/AD/Cur/6 Staff Papers
WA/MMS/AD/Mus Museum Functions
WA/MMS/AD/Mus/1 Exhibits
WA/MMS/AD/Mus/2 Guide Books
WA/MMS/AD/Mus/3 Medical Education
WA/MMS/AD/Mus/4 Methods and Techniques
WA/MMS/AD/Mus/5 Museology
WA/MMS/AD/Mus/6 Requests
WA/MMS/AD/Mus/7 Specimens
WA/MMS/AD/Mus/8 Tours, Lectures and Research
WA/MMS/AD/Mus/9 Visitor Books
WA/MMS/AR/Vol Bound volumes
WA/MMS/AR/Rep Loose reports
WA/MMS/AR/Dra Drafts
WA/MMS/Fil Policy files

Acquisition note

The records in the AR, FI and PU series were transferred to the Wellcome Archives in 1986 from the Wellcome Foundation (Acc WI/86) and consist mainly of the Museum's publications and unpublished annual reports. Major accessions from the Wellcome Trust Archives were added in June 2011, forming the AD and PH series (Acc 1514 & 1813). In April 2023 a collection of display and teaching objects, which were formerly part of the WMMS' collections but dispersed internally when the Museum was wound down, were reunited with the WA/MMS archive (Acc 2689).

Biographical note

Henry Wellcome wanted to set up a Bureau of Scientific Research [WBSR] in London after seeing first hand some of the effects of the epidemics and diseases affecting the African nations. He brought Andrew Balfour, who had directed the Wellcome Research Laboratories in Khartoum [WTRL], back to England to set up the venture. The Research Laboratories had included a museum formed of material which he had collected as a by-product of its work and he had also undertaken medical exhibitions as Dresden and Ghent dealing with selected tropical diseases. So, in 1914 a similar Museum was established at 10 Henrietta Street, London reporting to the WBSR for the purposes of administration and finance.

The nucleus of the exhibits came from the Dresden and Ghent exhibitions, supplemented by a variety of material relating to tropical medicine collected by Balfour and his staff during their overseas travels, largely zoological material. During WWI the entirety of the establishment was put at the service of the War Office, where its scientists trained officers going overseas, and carried out field research in different theatres of war. In 1919 the Museum moved to 8 Vere Street, opposite the building which housed the WBSR and in January that year, Dr G. Buchanan, who had served in the laboratories in Khartoum was appointed first full-time Curator. He was succeeded in June by Dr SH Daukes who had organised the visual teaching at the Leeds School of Army Hygiene. His methods were considered revolutionary to contemporaries, and he published on the subject in 1929. The Museum was chiefly concerned with the prophylaxis of tropical diseases, with special reference to their cause, transmission and methods of prevention.

In 1920 the Museum and Bureau moved to premises on the corner of Euston Road and Gordon Street and an active period of expansion, re-arrangement and labelling took place. In 1922 classes of students, consisting chiefly of missionaries and educationalists, were given formal demonstrations on tropical medicine and hygiene. However, in 1923 the establishment of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which had a museum of its own meant a change of direction and the WMMS began to embrace general medicine as well and in 1924 it was re-named the Wellcome Museum of Medical Science. In 1926 it transferred to 28 Endsleigh Gardens (later Endsleigh Court, 33 Gordon Street), moving again in 1932 to the ground floor of the new Wellcome Building at 183 Euston Road.

In the 1930s the WMMS became a centre for undergraduate teaching of medicine in general. It was closed from 1939-1946 at the outbreak of WWII, with specimens being put into storage in North London to escape the Blitz. When it re-opened after the war it was reduced in size and specialised in the teaching of tropical medicine, becoming a centre for postgraduate study under new Director C J Hackett. This re-focus on specialisation was as a result of the destruction of the museum of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the loss of duplication in nearby facilities. Its activities dovetailed with the Wellcome Laboratories of Tropical Medicine which were established at this time as the successors to the former Bureau of Scientific Research. In the 1950s its new emphasis was not on tropical medicine but on the practice of medicine in the tropics.

In the 60s and 70s attendances rocketed and the museum was opened up to other interested groups under the directorship of A J Duggan. The museum played a role in determining the best kinds of training for future professionals and led the way in establishing new techniques for preserving and displaying specimens. In 1985 the functions were taken over by the Wellcome Tropical Institute [WTI].

1919 Lt.Col George Buchanan
1919 - 1945 Dr Sidney Daukes
1946 - 1954 Dr CJ Hackett
1954 - 1955 Dr RY Dunlop
1956 - 1964 Col CA Bozman
1964 - 1984 A J Duggan
1985 - 1989 Transferred to Wellcome Tropical Institute until closure.
For further information see WA/MMS/PU/1, WA/MMS/AD/15, WA/MMS/AD/Mus/2 and WA/MMS/AD/Mus/4/22.

Terms of use

This collection has been partially catalogued and the catalogued part is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records. Requests to view uncatalogued material are considered on a case by case basis. Please contact collections@wellcomecollection.org for more details.

Accruals note

The following are temporary descriptions of material that has been acquired since this collection was catalogued. This description may change when cataloguing takes place in future. To request access to these materials see 'Terms of use'.
Acc 1823: 80 digital images comprising photographs of WMMS exhibits as they were being packed for transfer from one store to another in March 2006, added to the collection in June 2011.
Acc 2689: Display and teaching objects that were formerly part of the collections of the Wellcome Museum of Medical Science. 230 items, primarily 3D objects, comprising:
- Anatomy and pathology models including wax moulages and plaster models, statuettes and busts depicting health conditions and symptoms of disease. Includes models by artist Jane Jackson and Terzi.
- Models of insects and other vectors of communicable diseases primarily in wax and wood, including magnified specimens and life-cycle models. Includes models by artist Grace Edwards.
- Models of viruses and other biochemical structures, primarily molecular strctures of organic compounds and immunology-related structures in assorted materials including plaster, resin, wax and wood.
- Sections of former WMMS displays including labels, illustrations, leaflets, maps, prints and educational materials.


Abbreviations used in the catalogue:

BMA British Medical Association

BMJ British Medical Journal

HSW Henry Solomon Wellcome

RSM Royal Society of Medicine

[W]BSR Wellcome Bureau of Scientific Research

[W]CRL Wellcome Chemical Research Laboratories

[W]EFL Wellcome Entomological Field Laboratory

[W]HMM Wellcome Historical Medical Museum

WLTM Wellcome Laboratory of Tropical Medicine

[W]MMS Wellcome Museum of Medical Science

[W]MTMHWellcome Museum of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

[W]PRL Wellcome Physiological Research Laboratories

WRI Wellcome Research Institution

[W]TRL Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratory

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Accession number

  • WI/86
  • 1514
  • 1813
  • 1823
  • 2689