In 1929, the historical collection of the University of Otago’s Health Sciences’ Library was established with the donation of the famed Monro Collection. The some 450 volumes in that collection were owned by Alexander Monro, father (primus), son (secundus), and grandson (tertius), who were successively Professors of Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh, 1720–1846. Wonderful though the Monro Collection is, it comprises but a fraction of the total Health Sciences Library’s Historical Collections, some 100,000 plus volumes. These include 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century books and manuscripts, as well as the unique Preventive Medicine Dissertations.
This exhibition, Medical Marvels, highlights treasures from this Historical Collection, from pharmacy and phrenology to dentistry and disease. Of particular note is the anatomical flap book by Johann Remmelin, printed in Holland in 1667; a second edition of Andreas Vesalius’s The Fabric of the Body, printed in 1555; and Bernhard Albinus’s Tables of the Skeleton and Muscles of the Human Body, printed in 1746. Other noteworthy items include works by Edward Jenner, John Hunter, Francis Glisson, Thomas Willis, and William Smellie. For those interested in the history of medicine, the exhibition is a feast.
Many of the books have been chosen by University of Otago academic staff, students and librarians, who have used the books for their own research. We are particularly indebted to Professor Terence Doyle, Department of Medicine, and Professor Barbara Brookes, History Department.
The exhibition opens at Special Collections, de Beer Gallery, first floor, Central University Library, on 14 December 2018. It runs to 15 March 2019. It is open Monday to Friday, 9–5.