J.T. Wilson Museum of Human Anatomy
The museum has a world class collection of prosections that can be studied by current students and is also available online. The collection continues to grow and now has over 660 specimens covering all regions of the body, with exhibits dissected by many eminent people of the Australian medical fraternity. The oldest specimen still in the collection is a heart dissected by Dr G.H.S. Lightoller from 1908. Features of the collection are a series of plastinated sections of the head and trunk, antique anatomical wax models from France and corrosion casts of the kidneys.
The Wilson Museum is located in the Anderson Stuart Building on level four, room W401, and is open 8:30 am - 5:30 pm Monday to Friday. Access is restricted to current students of the Discipline of Anatomy and Histology and is not for general public viewing. Postgraduate and other legitimate educational access visits can be organised through the Curator. These restrictions are Discipline policy as derived from an interpretation of the Anatomy Act, 1977, and demonstrate the need for security and the Discipline’s sense of respect for the donors and their families.
You can view a floor-plan of the Museum to get an accurate idea of its layout.
The Museum’s online catalogue is available as part of our online learning resources and requires a Unikey or Med key account for access.
- UNIKEY login
The Wilson Museum’s origins can be traced back to 1882 when Thomas Peter Anderson Stuart from Edinburgh University was appointed to the newly formed Chair of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Sydney and was given the task of organising a medical school and curriculum.
In 1887 Dr James Thomas Wilson arrived from Edinburgh to take up the position of Demonstrator. Three years later, Anderson Stuart appointed Wilson to the foundation Challis Chair of Anatomy. Wilson began a massive accumulation of specimens for the Museum of Human and Morbid Anatomy, as it was originally named. In an address celebrating the “Majority of the Medical School” in 1902, Anderson Stuart’s pride in the Museum was evident mentioning it “possesses 24,000 specimens and is well worth a visit”.
Once occupying the space that is now the Anderson Stuart Common Room, formerly the Burkitt library, the Museum's collection has been reduced and refined over the years to only display normal human anatomy. It was moved to its current location in 1956 where it once had an upper gallery level, later covered over in 1959 to create the Shellshear Museum. At this time the Wilson Museum collection was reduced to include only wet specimens.
Wilson’s greatest contribution to the collection was the appointment of Prosectors, originally 4th or 5th year medical students, to provide high quality specimens for the Museum. The earliest photographs of Prosectors in the Discipline are dated 1903. Approximately 700 specimens were derived in this manner and to the present day the annual Prosectors’ Competition continues to generate high quality specimens for the Museum and postgraduate teaching. The title of ‘Prosector’ is highly valued and considered a worthwhile addition to a person’s curriculum vitae. Prizes relating to the competition include the J.I. Hunter Prize, Wolfe Solomon Brown Prize, A.M. Loewenthal Prize and R.M. Howe and are available to eligible participants.
In 2001 plans were begun on the refurbishment of the Wilson Museum using funds bequeathed to the Discipline of Anatomy and Histology. In March 2008 the renovations were completed and on October 1st the Dean of Medicine Professor Bruce Robinson and the Head of Discipline Associate Professor Kevin Keay officially reopened the museum. The museum now has improved lighting, air conditioning and a pleasant ambience to encourage private study outside of normal classes.