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The Museum’s four floors are filled with extraordinary artifacts, as well as paintings, illustrations and sculptures that interpret the primitive and modern healing practices of Eastern and Western civilizations. From early practices to today’s revolutionary techniques, the Museum’s collections and exhibitions portray the mysteries, breakthroughs, failures, and milestones that have shaped modern surgical science. Museum exhibits are installed according to theme or surgical discipline.

Musuem Exhibits / Special Exhibits

Museum Exhibits

Beyond Broken Bones
Orthopedics is the branch of medicine devoted to the musculoskeletal system of the body, which includes the bones, muscles, and joints that enable us to move. The orthopedic specialty treats people in every stage of life—from infants born with limb deformities, to athletes suffering from sports injuries, to seniors living with arthritis and osteoporosis—because mobility is a universal concern.

Japan Hall of Fame
Japanese surgeons have exported many great medical advances around the world, pioneering such surgical frontiers as ultrasound, anesthetics and surgical stapling. This exhibit highlights many of the contributions Japanese surgeons have made to modern surgical science.

Milestones in Medical Imaging: From X-Ray to Nuclear Medicine
“ I didn’t think, I investigated” – with these words in 1895, Wilhelm Roentgen acknowledged the discovery of a major landmark in modern life: the x-ray. This exhibit interprets the fascinating story of the medical imaging pioneers and the progress in over a century of medical imaging.

Milestones in Medical Imaging: 21st Century Medicine
Radiopharmaceuticals, the gamma camera, the PET scanner, and the balloon catheter have revolutionized the world of medical imaging. These new imaging technologies form the basis of 21st century medicine, allowing doctors an unparalleled look inside the body.

Nursing: Care for a Changing World
From the wise women of ancient ceremonies to certified medical specialists, nurses have made their own path in the world, innovating and organizing to bring care from the operating table to the battlefields. Nursing has rarely been more important than today and remains a profession ever striving for new roles to care for the world.

Rx for Success
Doctors and nurses may be the first professionals that come to mind when thinking about medicine, but in fact, 60% of healthcare providers fall into neither of those categories, and numerous health-related occupations do not even involve the delivery of patient care. This exhibit illustrates the rich variety of careers available within the fields of radiology, medical laboratory science, health information management, and biomedical engineering.

Polio Exhibit
The centerpiece of this exhibit is a rare working iron lung. The iron lung along with posters from the March of Dimes campaign bring back many forgotten memories of the fear of an incurable disease.

Supporting Structure: Understanding the Spine and Spinal Surgery
Following Hippocrates’ declaration that knowledge of the spine “is the requisite of understanding many diseases,” this exhibit pays tribute to the spine’s important role in the body by highlighting historical methods of treating spinal injury, and showcasing the technological and surgical advances that have revolutionized the field.

Surgicogenomics: Genes and Stem Cells in Surgery
This exhibit explores this cutting-edge medical field of surgicogenomics that is emerging from the intersection of genetics and stem cell research and surgical practice.

Taiwan Room
Taiwanese medical luminaries have made ground-breaking achievements in fields ranging from organ transplantation to public health. This exhibit celebrates Taiwan's outstanding contributions to global medicine through interactive touch-screen kiosks, engaging videos, and displays of hand-crafted artwork, cultural artifacts, and antique medical tools.

Turn of the Century Apothecary Shop
Rows of patent medicines, a prescription book and tools of the trade take you inside Dr. Uriah Jones’s Apothecary. This shop was created from two pharmacies originally located in upstate New York and Iowa. Near the apothecary are an early 20th century dentist’s office and an exhibit on patent medicines.

The Universal Condition: Enduring and Alleviating Pain
Nearly every human being experiences pain at some point in life. This exhibit examines issues in the perception of pain and chronicles medicine’s quest to relieve it, from the ancient use of psychoactive plants to contemporary laser therapy, focusing on milestones such as the discovery of anesthesia.

Windows to the World: The Science of Sight and the Ophthalmic Art
Through over 1,000 objects, the collection illustrates a comprehensive history of ophthalmology and the development of spectacles and other vision aids. Located in a striking gallery within the Museum’s historic landmark mansion, this exhibit is one of the most extensive exhibits on ophthalmic history in the United States, and the largest in the Midwest.

Special Exhibits

Anatomy in the Gallery
This rotating exhibition program showcases medically themed contemporary art within the unique context of the Museum’s historical exhibits and collections. The program was begun in 1998 to help fulfill the Museum’s mission.

Artist in Residence
IMSS's Artist Residency program provides Chicago-area artists with extended and in-depth access to the artifacts from the collection, studio space within the Museum's exhibits, and support to present exhibitions that introduce additional perspectives to the institutional depiction of medical history.

Body of Work
See past exhibits  

1524 N. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60610 USA
fax 312.642.9516


Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10 am to 4 pm
Wednesday: 10 am to 4 pm
Thursday: 10 am to 4 pm
Friday: 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 5 pm
Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm

Last admission will be taken one hour before the closing time.