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J.T. Wilson Museum

A world-class collection of prosections
This museum has an extensive collection of prosections, with more than 660 specimens covering all regions of the body.

The collection continues to grow and features exhibits dissected by many eminent people of the Australian medical community.

The oldest specimen in the collection is a dissected heart from 1908. The museum also houses a series of plastinated sections of the head and trunk, antique anatomical wax models from France and corrosion casts of the kidneys. 

Location

J.T. Wilson museum showing a computer and the anatomy displays

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. 

History

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. About 700 specimens were derived in this manner and to the present day the annual prosectors’ competition still generates high-quality specimens for the museum and postgraduate teaching. 

Refurbishment began in 2001 of the Wilson Museum using funds bequeathed to the Discipline of Anatomy and Histology. In March 2008 the renovations were completed and on October 1 the former 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.