The National Museum of Health and
Medicine (NMHM) is a museum in
Silver Spring, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. The museum was
founded by U.S. Army Surgeon General William A. Hammond as the Army
Medical Museum (AMM) in 1862; it became the NMHM in 1989 and
relocated to its present site at the Army's
Forest Glen Annex in
2011. An element of the Defense Health Agency (DHA), the NMHM is
a member of the National Health Sciences Consortium.
1.1 19th century
1.2 20th century
1.3 2011 move
2.1 Major collections
2.2 Major exhibitions
2.3 Programs offered
3 Location and hours
4 See also
6 External links
Army Medical Museum and Library
Army Medical Museum and Library building housed the Army Medical
Museum from 1887 to 1947 — and again from 1962 to 1969, when the
building was razed.
The AMM was established during the American Civil War as a center
for the collection of specimens for research in military medicine and
surgery. In 1862, Hammond directed medical officers in the field to
collect "specimens of morbid anatomy...together with projectiles and
foreign bodies removed" and to forward them to the newly founded
museum for study. The AMM's first curator, John H. Brinton, visited
mid-Atlantic battlefields and solicited contributions from doctors
throughout the Union Army. During and after the war, AMM staff took
pictures of wounded soldiers showing effects of gunshot wounds as well
as results of amputations and other surgical procedures. The
information collected was compiled into six volumes of The Medical and
Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, published between 1870
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, AMM staff engaged in
various types of medical research. They pioneered in photomicrographic
techniques, established a library and cataloging system which later
formed the basis for the National Library of
Medicine (NLM), and led
the AMM into research on infectious diseases while discovering the
cause of yellow fever. They contributed to research on vaccinations
for typhoid fever, and during World War I, AMM staff were involved in
vaccinations and health education campaigns, including major efforts
to combat sexually transmissible diseases.
The former NMHM building (actually the basement of the AFIP building)
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) garrison, Washington,
DC, where it was housed from 1971 to 2011.
By World War II, research at the AMM focused increasingly on
pathology. In 1946 the AMM became a division of the new Army Institute
of Pathology (AIP), which became the Armed Forces Institute of
Pathology (AFIP) in 1949. The AMM's library and part of its archives
were transferred to the National Library of
Medicine when that
institution was created in 1956. The AMM itself became the Medical
Museum of the AFIP in 1949, the Armed Forces Medical Museum in 1974,
and finally the NMHM in 1989. During its peak years on the National
Mall in the 1960s, every year the Museum saw "as many as 400,000 to
500,000 people coming through". But after its moves to increasingly
obscure and out-of-the-way sites, it fell into a period of relative
neglect. By the 1990s, it was attracting only between 40,000 and
50,000 visitors a year.
C. Everett Koop
C. Everett Koop (in his last year as Surgeon General)
commissioned the "National Museum of Health and
a private, nonprofit organization to explore avenues for its future
development and revitalization, with the aim of ultimately returning
its collection to a venue on the National Mall. Proposed was “a
site on land that is located east of and adjacent to the Hubert H.
Humphrey Building (100 Independence Avenue, Southwest, in the District
of Columbia)”. In 1993, a draft bill authored by Sen. Edward
Kennedy proposed $21.8 million for moving the existing collection to a
new facility to be constructed on that site. That bill, however, was
never introduced owing to political difficulties including objections
from Constance Breuer—widow of Marcel Breuer, architect of the
Humphrey Building—who objected to the view obstruction that would be
entailed by the proposed construction. A letter from the Department of
Defense to Koop in the mid-1990s, expressed hope that the NMHM
exhibits would "one day be provided the appropriate and prominent home
they deserve back at the
National Mall in the new National Health
Museum". But the DoD backed away from contributing to funding a new
museum. The Foundation has since been superseded by a new
organization, dedicated to creating a new National Health Museum, and
which has more ambitious aims and is not dependent on what happens to
the existing NMHM.
Due to the closure of WRAMC, NMHM has relocated—for the tenth
time—to U.S. Army Garrison-Forest Glen in Silver Spring, Montgomery
Authority over the Forest Glen garrison was transferred from WRAMC to
Fort Detrick in October 2008. The NMHM closed its exhibits on
April 3, 2011, and reopened in a new building on September 15, 2011.
On October 1, 2015, the NMHM became part of the Defense Health
The NMHM embodies five collections consisting of about 25 million
artifacts, including 5,000 skeletal specimens, 8,000 preserved
organs, 12,000 items of medical equipment, an archive of historic
medical documents, and collections related to neuroanatomy and
developmental anatomy. The museum's most famous artifacts relate to
Abraham Lincoln and his assassination on April 14, 1865, by
John Wilkes Booth. On display are a copy by sculptor Avarel
Fairbanks of Lincoln's life mask and hands made by
Leonard Volk in
1860, the bullet fired from the
Deringer pistol which ended the
President's life, the probe used by the U.S. Army Surgeon General to
locate the bullet during autopsy, pieces of Lincoln's hair and skull,
and the autopsy surgeon's shirt cuff, stained with Lincoln's
blood. In 2010 the heirs of American pathologist Thomas Harvey
(1912–2007) transferred all of his holdings constituting the remains
Albert Einstein's brain
Albert Einstein's brain to the NMHM, including 14 photographs of
the whole brain (which is now in fragments) never before revealed to
Museum collections include:
The Historical Collections document changes in medical technology
since the early 19th century. Included in this growing assemblage of
more than 12,000 objects are x-ray equipment, microscopes, surgical
instruments, numismatics and anatomical models.
The Anatomical Collections are made up of bones and body parts.
More than 5,000 skeletal specimens and 10,000 preserved organs
document medical cases of disease and injury. The collection supports
research in pathology, physical anthropology, forensic anthropology,
The Otis Historical Archives houses photographs, illustrations,
and documents related to health and medicine. More than 350 different
collections document, in pictures and words, the practice of medicine
from the Civil War to the present.
The Human Developmental Anatomy Center maintains the largest
collection of embryologic material in the United States. The Center is
a primary source for centralized research in developmental anatomy.
The Center is also known for its imaging and 3-D reconstructions of
The Neuroanatomical Collections comprise nine different
collections focusing on human and non-human neuroanatomy and
neuropathology. These collections are a unique international resource
for the study of the brain.
Museum exhibitions feature several permanent exhibits alongside
several rotating displays.
To Bind Up the Nation's Wounds:
Medicine During the Civil War
shows Civil War medicine through the eyes of battlefield surgeons and
the stories of Union and Confederate sick and wounded.
Evolution of the Microscope displays items from the world's
largest and most representative collection in tracing the development
of the basic tool of the bioscientist over the last 400 years.
Battlefield Surgery 101: From the Civil War to Vietnam,
exclusively from the museum's historical archives and historical
collections, presents the highlights of the evolution of military
surgical activities over the last 140 years through a selection of
photographs and 19th- and 20th- century artifacts.
Abraham Lincoln: The Final Casualty of the War: To mark the 200th
anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's birth, NMHM honors the 16th
president of the United States with this exhibition of items
associated with his last hours and the physicians who cared for him.
Trauma Bay II, Balad, Iraq, offers a rare view inside a former Air
Force tent hospital in Balad, Iraq.
RESOLVED: Advances in Forensic Identification of U.S. War Dead
highlights the underlying forensic sciences that have evolved in
fulfilling this nation’s commitment to the identification and
commemoration of the U.S. service member.
Flier for October 8, 2011 NMHM Science Café.
The museum offers a wide variety of programs on weekends, weekdays,
and evenings throughout the year for adults and children, with topics
ranging through a spectrum of medical, scientific, and historical
Other exhibit information is available on the webarchive.
Location and hours
The museum is located at 2500 Linden Lane in Silver Spring, Maryland,
one mile outside the District of Columbia. It is open to the public,
but security restrictions require a photo ID for all adult
visitors. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day
Christmas (when it is closed), and admission is free.
Army Medical Museum and Library
United States Army Medical Department Museum
^ "Historic Medical Sites in the Washington, DC Area - National Museum
of Health and Medicine". nih.gov.
^ "Whonamedit - dictionary of medical eponyms". whonamedit.com.
^ a b http://nmhm.washingtondc.museum/about/faq/index.html#2.1
^ a b "3 US Organizations Set To Join Defense Health Agency".
^ "National Museum of Health &
Washington, D.C. -
Battlefield Healthcare and Human Anatomy Are Among Themes on Permanent
Exhibition at Army Research Center". city-data.com.
^ a b c d e http://nmhm.washingtondc.museum/about/about.html
^ Tanouye, Erik, “
National Mall Running Out of Space: Federal
Planners Want No More Museums in the 2-mile Strip”, Hearst News
Service, February 12, 1998.
^ Abse, Nathan, “Push Is On for New Medical Museum as Old Collection
Is Modernized”, Washington Post, December 16, 1997.
^ This spot is at Third Street and Independence Avenue SW. See: 108
STAT. 2852 PUBLIC LAW 103-337 —OCT. 5, 1994 (c) RULE OF
^ Abse (1997), Op. cit.
^ Palk, Justin M. (2008). "
Fort Detrick to take over Forest Glen".
www.fredericknewspost.com. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
Archived 2007-07-02 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Falk, Dean, Frederick E. Lepore, and Adrianne Noe (2012), “The
cerebral cortex of Albert Einstein: a description and preliminary
analysis of unpublished photographs”, Brain; 135: 11.
^ Balter, Michael, "Rare photos show that Einstein's brain has unusual
features", The Washington Post, Tuesday, 27 November 2012; E6.
^ "Evolution of the Microscope - n m h m". 29 January 2009.
^ http://nmhm.washingtondc.museum/news/bs101.html drawn
^ "National Museum of Health and
Medicine Events". Retrieved 7 October
^ "Museum Exhibits - n m h m". 2 July 2007.
^ "National Museum of Health and Medicine". Yelp. 28 September
The National Museum of Health and
Medicine official website
BrainMuseum.org - a partnership of the University of Wisconsin and
Michigan State Comparative Mammalian Brain Collections and the
National Museum of Health and Medicine
James G. Mundie's photographs from The National Museum of Health and
C-SPAN American History TV Tour of the National Museum of Health and
Medicine's Civil War Collection
C-SPAN American History TV Tour of the museum looking at 'Medical
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