Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Medical Instruments

The College houses an extensive collection of medical instruments by over 50 different makers from Ireland, Britain and Europe.

During the year instruments are put on display around the college to illustrate the advancements that have taken place in the development of medical instruments. To browse the medical instrument collections click here and scroll down to 'MI - Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland medical instruments collection'. 

A number of these instruments would have been used in battles, wars and combat throughout the centuries. The surgical kit (RCSI/MI/252) below was picked up off the battlefield after the Battle of Vitoria in 1813. The receipt of sale still accompanies the surgical kit. 


          Battle of Vitoria surgical kit                        Battle of Vitoria surgical kit receipt


Another element of the medical instrument collection, is the 22 wax anatomical models that are housed in the Department of Anatomy. These wax models would have been used as teaching aids at the beginning of the 1800s up until the mid to late 1800s. The College has 11 models by Jacques Talrich, one of the most celebrated wax modellers of the day. The detail on these models is exceptional and they still retain their colour and precision despite being nearly 190 years old.  


                RCSI wax head                                  RCSI wax head


Glass lantern slides were used as teaching aids by professors of medicine. The RCSI is delighted to have a small number of these dating from the early 20th century which includes images of various medical procedures, zoological animals and social occasions. The two glass lantern slides below are taken fro the J. Alfred Scott Collection (RCSI/IP/Scott) and are images of Dublin Zoo at the beginning of the 1900s.


                Alfred Scott Galapagos tortoise                            Alfred Scott elephant ride


Consultation of these medical artefacts can be arranged by emailing Please understand that confirmation of an appointment may take some time as there will have to be co-ordination between the Heritage Collections and the Department of Anatomy.