Online collection

This database gives you the opportunity to explore the museum’s diverse collections, with items ranging from surgical implements to contraception!

View the online collection

Located in the former Leeds Union Workhouse, the Thackray Museum of Medicine cares for over 75,000 accessioned objects, books, catalogues and archives relating to the history of medicine and healthcare. We want to provide the best access possible to the collections and we do this by displaying around 3,000 of the items across our permanent and temporary galleries as well as providing an online catalogue and enquiry service

The museum’s collections focus on responses to people’s medical and healthcare needs – the innovation, enterprise, technology and collective effort to make us all well. This gives us a focus on collaboration and shared responsibility for health that sets us aside from many more traditional medical museums. We co-create collections with our diverse audiences, ensuring that the contemporary collecting programme includes and represents the diverse cultures all around us. We also reflect current issues in health and developments in medicine by working closely with public health, social prescribing, medical and academic colleagues.

Explore the collection using Collections Online. You’ll find some themes to help you get going or you can search for specific objects. Our collections are extensive and are internally classified into 48 main groups with over 330 subsections, covering surgery, medicine (human and veterinary) and pharmacy.


If you have a question about an object in our collection, research projects, or something of yours that you think we can help provide further information you can use our enquiries service. Please contact us at [email protected] or if you are unable to email, call us on 0113 244 4343. We aim to provide an initial response within five working days, subject to workload.

View the Collections On-site

Objects, library holdings and archival materials from our stored collections can be viewed on-site via pre-booked research appointments. These must be arranged at least one week in advance and can take place on most weekdays, with Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays offering the best availability. The requested items will need to be located and condition checked before viewing so unfortunately, we are only able to offer pre-booked appointments rather than a drop-in service.

Please search Collections Online to find objects, books or archival holdings of interest and email [email protected] specifying which items you would like to view. You will then be contacted by a member of our team. We aim to provide an initial response within three working days, subject to workload. Please include all relevant information in your enquiry to aid a search of the collections.

Many of our objects are old, fragile or may contain hazardous substances and as such, some may be unsuitable for viewing. You will be informed if this is the case before you are given an appointment and we will work with you to find a solution.

Offers of Donation

If you have something interesting which you think could add to the collections, please email [email protected] and include a description of your item, photographs and any interesting details you might have about its back story.

Please remember that we already have over 70,000 accessioned items in our permanent collections and can only consider those items which fit the criteria of our collecting policy, the document which outlines what we can and cannot collect. All items which we accept have to go through a strict review process with our acquisition and disposal panel before they can be accessioned.

Please note that we cannot accept:

  • Items sent in the post
  • Items left at the Thackray Museum of Medicine without an appointment
  • Human remains or pathological specimens
  • Controlled drugs
  • Duplicates of items we already have
  • Anonymous donations

We’re sorry, but we are not able to value objects for members of the public. Please ask an independent antique expert for a professional valuation.