The Medical Museion houses one of the richest and most extensive collections of historical medical artifacts in all of Europe which makes it a must-see for anyone interested in medical history, the evolution of medical studies, and the grotesque. This unique museum is included in Copenhagen City Pass.
To the uninitiated, the Medical Museion certainly seems to cut a humble figure at first sight, especially when compared to such world-famous sights and attractions as the SMK – the National Gallery of Denmark, the Tivoli Gardens, or Rosenborg Castle lying just around the corner. But unlike those, the Medical Museion has remained a true hidden gem that holds a rich reward for visitors looking for something truly fascinating off the beaten track.
Founded as a public museum in 1907 before becoming part of the University of Copenhagen in 1918, the museum is located in Fredriksstaden, a district famed for its opulent rococo architecture and a candidate for list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, in the very center of Copenhagen. However, opulence is the last thing that comes to mind when standing in front of the Medical Museion. Only the two ionic columns framing the doorway suggest that this might be a place of learning or higher education. But once visitors set foot inside the museum, a whole new world opens up to them.
The museum is dedicated to the preservation of Denmark’s medical heritage through a collection of artifacts that goes back to the early 17th century and is expanded continuously. This means that exploring the museum’s exhibits is not for the faint of heart: what passed for state-of-the-art medical research and knowledge centuries ago today verges on the grotesque and macabre and crosses that line more often than not. Medical instruments that seem intended for medieval torture instead of healing, human organs and entire fetuses swimming in formaldehyde in countless glass containers of all shapes, sizes, and forms, and prints and charts seemingly rooted in pure speculation instead of science all are a sight out of the ordinary. But they also offer a fascinating glimpse into the early stages of modern medicine and remain a testament to the eternal desire to better understand the human body in order to heal it.
To showcase this treasure trove of medical artifacts and to allow everyone to understand and appreciate their significance, the museum produces various exhibits with different themes and topics throughout the year. While all of those focus on medicinal research and history, they cover a whole range of engrossing topics, including everything from the way in which organs, cells, and bacteria work to the ethics behind conducting such research.