International Museum of Surgical Science

International Museum of Surgical Science The mission of the Museum is to enrich people's lives by enhancing their appreciation and understanding of the history, art and advances of surgery.
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Since 1954, the International Museum of Surgical Science has provided education on the history and progress of surgery and related medical sciences to hundreds of thousands of visitors. As a not-for-profit division of the International College of Surgeons, the Museum depicts contributions from around the world to the history, development and advances of surgery and related subjects in health and medicine. Housed in a historic mansion, the Museum building is a City of Chicago Landmark and is listed in the National Register and Illinois Register of Historic Places. The elegant structure, known as the Eleanor Robinson Countiss House, is patterned after Le Petit Trianon, a French chateau built on the grounds of Versailles for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Designed by noted Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, the building was completed in 1917. Original interior finishes of marble and cut stone; decorative plaster work, metal fixtures and hardware; eight fireplaces; and a gilded metal grand staircase are among the features, which have been preserved. The building truly embodies the Gold Coast splendor of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. GENERAL INFORMATION The Museum is closed on the following holidays: Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. IMSS is also closed during the Chicago Air and Water Show weekend. ADMISSION Adults - $17.00 Senior Citizens (ages 65+) - $13.00 Students, Educators & Members of the Military (with ID) - $13.00 Children ages 4–13 (Free for ages 3 & under) - $9.00 Children ages 3 and under - FREE IMSS Members - FREE No Refunds • No Exchanges • No Re-Entry PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION The Museum is easily accessible by bus or train. * The CTA bus #151 stops at North Avenue, half a block north of the Museum. * From the Clark/Division stop of the Red Line elevated train walk east on Division until you reach Lake Shore Drive. Turn north and walk a few blocks to the Museum. * From the Sedgwick stop of the Brown Line and Purple Line Express elevated train, walk east on North Avenue until you reach Lake Shore Drive. Turn south and walk a block to the Museum. For train and bus schedules call the RTA/CTA at 312-836-7000. PARKING Ample discounted parking is available in 3 locations within a few minutes’ walk of the Museum. Retrieve a discounted validation voucher/stamp at the Museum box office to present to the parking attendant upon exiting the lot/ramp. PARKING OPTION Standard Parking Lot - Behind the Chicago History Museum located on Clark and LaSalle Streets, Chicago, IL 60614; entrance on Stockton Drive Standard Parking Lot - in condominium building at 1445 N. State Parkway, Chicago, IL 60610; entrance on Burton Place. Standard Parking Lot - in condominium building at 1350 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60610; entrance on E. Banks Street

You may have heard of shopping til you drop, but what about dancing til you drop? During the summer of 1518, a small tow...
05/09/2020

You may have heard of shopping til you drop, but what about dancing til you drop? During the summer of 1518, a small town in modern-day France did just that. From July to late August, the community of Strasbourg was compelled to dance and twist through the city streets during the summer heat. This took a toll on the tangoing victims, leading many to succumb to death from extreme exhaustion. Around 400 people were left dancing until they died. This unbelievable event has left many wondering: how did it happen?

Many first-hand reports of the mind-bending event say sufferers were cursed to dance, while local physicians pointed towards a more medical explanation. At the time, belief in the humoral system of medicine was standard practice. In this theory, the body was made up of four humors; blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. If one humor fell out of balance, a person would become ill. During the Dancing Plague, an imbalance in the blood humor, or “hot blood,” was blamed for the never-ending tango. However, this was not the true root of the problem.

Modern historians theorize that the actual cause was a fungus called ergot. It commonly grows on rye and can easily infect a town’s fields during a rainy season. It’s rarely noticeable on plants, and accidental consumption leads to disastrous consequences. Ergot can behave similarly to LSD, leading to powerful hallucinations and mind altering effects. This little fungus is also often credited with helping support ideas of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. During the Dancing Plague, historians theorize ergot may have played a role in creating a compulsion to dance, while mind-altering effects created an extreme “group think” mentality.

As with many wild stories in history, the whole truth will never be completely revealed. But this crazy tale allows modern eyes to theorize about what happened in that summer of 1518.

It's World Red Cross Day, and today we are celebrating the incredible work that the American Red Cross is currently doin...
05/08/2020
What to know about the Coronavirus and Blood Donation

It's World Red Cross Day, and today we are celebrating the incredible work that the American Red Cross is currently doing across the country.

During our current public health crisis, the American Red Cross has been hard at work supporting quarantine shelters, distributing food, connecting families, and providing health and mental health services. Want to help? You can do so by giving blood, donating money, or becoming a volunteer.

Thank you to the American Red Cross for your unwavering commitment to helping people in need! ❤️

The Red Cross strongly urges healthy, eligible blood donors to schedule a donation to maintain a sufficient supply of blood products for those in need. The Red Cross is taking every measure to manage the safety of donors, volunteers, employees and blood recipients.

DID YOU KNOW? There's a whole portion of your DNA that you receive only from your mother, called the mitochondrial DNA. ...
05/08/2020
Mother's Day Mitochondrial DNA Card

DID YOU KNOW? There's a whole portion of your DNA that you receive only from your mother, called the mitochondrial DNA. This Mother's Day, thank your mom for all the genetic material she passed down to you. 🧬

Through 5/11, take 20% off + free shipping in our online store with code MOTHERSDAY20 🤰

Your mitochondrial DNA is the unique link between you and your mom! While most of your DNA resides in the nuclei of your cells, there is a special little bit found in the mitochondria that's passed down exclusively from mother to child, and unlike the rest of your DNA, it's shaped like a ring. Thank...

This month's staff pic comes from Yolanda, a cultural homestay international volunteer who visited from China earlier th...
05/07/2020

This month's staff pic comes from Yolanda, a cultural homestay international volunteer who visited from China earlier this year.

When asked about her favorite part of the experience, she replied, “I have been working in the museum for two months. One of the most interesting collections that I like is the anatomical theater because the reason why it was built was so newfangled that it would shock almost all of the people seeing it. Furthermore, I once made my tour about this work and it was one of the most wonderful experience I had.”

What’s your favorite object at IMSS?

HOPE AND HELPThis statue sits outside the International Museum of Surgical Science, greeting passersby the same way it h...
05/06/2020

HOPE AND HELP

This statue sits outside the International Museum of Surgical Science, greeting passersby the same way it has for over 50 years. Although the Museum is currently closed, this sculpture is a beacon to all and a reminder of the power of medicine. Today and every day we are grateful for medical providers all across the world who bring hope and help into our lives.

This object is posted in honor of donor Lori Huffman & family.

Happy National Nurses Day! Nurses form the bedrock of our medical system, and especially during this time, we send our h...
05/06/2020

Happy National Nurses Day! Nurses form the bedrock of our medical system, and especially during this time, we send our heartfelt thanks to all nurses working to protect us. ❤️

This is a bust of Florence Nightingale, who is widely considered the founder of modern nursing. She came to prominence while tending to wounded soldiers during the Crimean War and earned the nickname “lady of the lantern,” as she could frequently be seen moving between tents to treat the injured by the light of her lamp. Today we celebrate all the nurses, past and present, who work so hard to keep us healthy.

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Go Fund Me Charity for #GivingTuesdayNow! We raised $1,420 today thanks to your...
05/05/2020
#GivingTuesdayNow to support the International Museum of Surgical Science

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Go Fund Me Charity for #GivingTuesdayNow! We raised $1,420 today thanks to your generosity. I hope you enjoyed today’s #IMSScuratorBTS! If you are able, you can donate here: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/givingtuesdaynow-to-support-the-international-museum-of-surgical-science

Thank you to today's donors Milton Geivelis, Kaylee Tock, Dr. Jerome Kolavo, Dr Evangelos Kilipiris, James Donovan, Judith Desenis, Kristina Chapman-Rapp, Melissa Leff, Mary Ann and Dennis McDermott, Lori Huffman and Family, Jon & Gayle Simala, and Julia Spagnuolo!

A special thanks to our Upper Level Members: Amol Soin, Jennifer Pritzker and Scot Campbell, Neil Inglis, Kay Collier, Susan Robertson, Martin Perdoux, Elizabeth Robison, Jill Moriarity, Matthew Ephraim, Dr. Liza Pilch, John Haughey, Robert Kaprelian, and Paula Keats!

We want to thank all our members, especially those who helped us by renewing early! Thank you also to all our visitors and followers. We can’t wait to open again in the future to serve you!

Thanks for joining me today for a Behind the Scenes of the Museum. Until next time!

If you've ever visited the Int'l Museum of Surgical Science, you know that it's unlike any other place in the world. #GivingTuesdayNow

Since everyone seems to love #MuseumsintheDark, here's some pictures of our exhibits with no lights on! Would you be sca...
05/05/2020

Since everyone seems to love #MuseumsintheDark, here's some pictures of our exhibits with no lights on! Would you be scared to walk through our exhibits in the dark?

#IMSScuratorBTS #IMSSchicago #GivingTuesdayNow #GivingTuesday

Thank you to our recent anonymous donor! They request to see something related to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The book ...
05/05/2020

Thank you to our recent anonymous donor! They request to see something related to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The book was published in 1818. Dr. Frankenstein would have performed his surgeries without antisepsis/anesthesia. Grave robbing was prevalent to aid in anatomy research.

His Monster was created using limbs of the buried deceased. Here are knives from the early 19th cent. used for surgery, and could also be used for dissection to make precision cuts of skin, ligaments and muscle. The handles are made of wood.

#IMSScuratorBTS #GivingTuesdayNow #IMSSChicago

Here’s a unique item in the collection! “Improved Breast Glass, No. 2 with Elastic Tube for Self Use," from c. 1869.  Br...
05/05/2020

Here’s a unique item in the collection! “Improved Breast Glass, No. 2 with Elastic Tube for Self Use," from c. 1869. Breast pumps have evolved over the years. Breast pumps began to appear in the US beginning in the mid-19th century.

This one was patented by Hagarty Bros. & Co. of New York. They were marketed to be “superior to every other kind, being so constructed as to exactly imitate child-nursing, without producing pain.” You could find one in your local apothecary store!

#IMSScuratorBTS #IMSSchicago #GivingTuesdayNow

Thanks for joining me for #GivingTuesdayNow and our BTS event! I’m Michelle and I’m the Operations Manager and Curator f...
05/05/2020

Thanks for joining me for #GivingTuesdayNow and our BTS event! I’m Michelle and I’m the Operations Manager and Curator for the Museum. Tag along as I take you through some interesting finds in the collections and rooms of the Museum and our 100 year old mansion!

If you are able, consider making a donation to our GoFundMe Charity, and help us keep the Museum alive! Either way, join me for some unique content you won’t see on a normal tour of the Museum. Drop your questions or requests and I’ll answer best I can!

https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/givingtuesdaynow-to-support-the-international-museum-of-surgical-science

“While war was rife with danger and disease, technological innovations in gun and ammunition design also had a devastati...
05/02/2020
A Note from the Library – A Horrible Laceration: The Impact of the Minié Ball in the American Civil War

“While war was rife with danger and disease, technological innovations in gun and ammunition design also had a devastating impact on the human body. Ultimately, it was the French Minié rifle and respective ball that caused much of the bodily harm in the American Civil War.”

Learn more in a new blog post by Library Intern Kelly Christian!

Published by Kelly Christian Many of the surgical textbooks held in the Thorek Manuscripts and Rare Books Collection reference how to operate on and care for wounds from war. The nuance of military…

Check out this 1800s amputation kit! Each knife has a different purpose--some cut skin, some cut muscle, and some cut bo...
05/02/2020

Check out this 1800s amputation kit! Each knife has a different purpose--some cut skin, some cut muscle, and some cut bone. 💀

Ever wondered what else we've got in our collection? If you make a donation of any amount to our GoFundMe, we will share a behind-the-scenes photo OF YOUR CHOOSING. Donate here: https://bit.ly/imssgtn

Imagine a quarantine without music, tv, stories, and art. Let’s not leave our creatives behind in this critical time.  V...
05/01/2020

Imagine a quarantine without music, tv, stories, and art. Let’s not leave our creatives behind in this critical time. Visit our website and make a donation to help us continue through this crisis. And please consider making a donation to #ArtsForIllinois to help individual artists in need: https://bit.ly/ILArtsRelief

Breathe in. Breathe out. Having your lungs and heart listened to through a stethoscope is commonplace during every docto...
04/29/2020

Breathe in. Breathe out. Having your lungs and heart listened to through a stethoscope is commonplace during every doctor visit. These tools bounce around every doctor’s neck and are as ubiquitous to the profession as a bright white lab coat. This wasn’t always the case. Before the rise of the stethoscope, doctors would listen to all the weird internal sloshing happening in their patients’ chests with their ears alone. Doctors would set their ears against the chests of their patients like someone trying to hear voices through a wall. But one physician knew there had to be a better way.

Even before the stethoscope, doctors still understood the importance of the sounds of our internal bodies. If you visited a doctor in the early 1800s, your breathing and heartbeat would be checked, similar to today. However, your doctor’s head would be pressed firmly against your chest and back in order to listen. This breach of personal space between doctor and patient is what inspired French physician René Laennec to create the stethoscope. The tale goes that Laennac thought it was inappropriate for physicians to place their heads on the chests of women and young girls to listen to their heart. Many of his female patients had voiced discomfort and he grew uncomfortable with the practice as well, which led him to his invention. He used his talents for crafting flutes to create a long wooden tube to be placed on the chest. Similar to talking into a paper towel tube, the sound was amplified and doctors could listen from a little further away. Not only did Laennac’s invention help make his patients more comfortable, but it increased the accuracy of diagnoses and left more space between doctors and sick patients. Particularly doctors helping tuberculosis patients fell in love with the invention because of the increased accuracy of sound and the distance it created.

The stethoscope is one of the most classic tools in a doctor’s arsenal. These incredibly useful tools help to tune a doctor’s hearing into sounds within the body including the heartbeat and breathing of the patient. Simple tools are sometimes the most powerful.

Art by @emily.bari on Instagram

04/29/2020
imss.ecwid.com

There are over 100 billions neurons present in the brain. No wonder we all need a break once in a while! April is Stress Awareness Month, so remember to take a moment to relax.

Stock up on huggable plushies today and tomorrow by taking 20% off in our online store with code NOWORRIES 🧠

This is a plaster cast of the hands of renowned surgeon Max Thorek. 🤝Max Thorek founded both the International College o...
04/28/2020

This is a plaster cast of the hands of renowned surgeon Max Thorek. 🤝

Max Thorek founded both the International College of Surgeons and the International Museum of Surgical Science! 💀 Born in 1880 in Hungary, his family immigrated to Chicago during his university years. He attended the University of Chicago and Rush Medical College, eventually establishing the Thorek Memorial Hospital in Uptown. Thorek specialized in reconstructive surgery and perfected a technique used to reduce mortalities in gallbladder operations.

Next time you visit the Museum, come see Thorek’s hands for yourself, on display in our historic library! 📚

Check out this 4,000 year old skull! Fans of medical history will know that the hole is due to the earliest known form o...
04/28/2020

Check out this 4,000 year old skull! Fans of medical history will know that the hole is due to the earliest known form of surgery: trephination. The procedure, which was practiced for thousands of years, entailed drilling, scraping or cutting the skull to treat head injuries, headaches, hallucinations, epilepsy and more. Many ancient skulls show signs of bone regrowth around the hole, proving that patients survived the procedure.

Ever wondered what else we've got in our collection? If you make a donation of any amount to our GoFundMe, we will share a behind-the-scenes photo OF YOUR CHOOSING. Donate here: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/givingtuesdaynow-to-support-the-international-museum-of-surgical-science

Do you follow one of our favorite  Woman of Science On Instagram, @mrs_angemi? Check out her page for graphic medical co...
04/27/2020

Do you follow one of our favorite Woman of Science On Instagram, @mrs_angemi? Check out her page for graphic medical content!

This painting, titled “Remains of Qalawun’s Bimaristan” by artist A.F. El Kyal is featured in our Middle Eastern and Nor...
04/26/2020

This painting, titled “Remains of Qalawun’s Bimaristan” by artist A.F. El Kyal is featured in our Middle Eastern and North African exhibition space. The Qalawun Complex, built in Cairo in 1284 CE, was home to a school, mosque, and one of the earliest hospitals in the world!

“Bimaristan” is the Medieval Islamic term for a hospital, and this bimaristan was part of a complex built by the Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun, one of the rulers of the Mamluk Sultanate. This hospital was vast and complex, encompassing a network of wards for different illnesses along with a pharmacy, a dispensary, and an outreach division.

The hospital was one of the most lavish and ornate built during its time. It offered more than treatment for the sick; it was a place where patients could be provided with medicine, clothing, food, and shelter. Here the bimaristan is depicted in the year 1337 CE, after a strong earthquake hit the city in 1327.

Happy National DNA Day! Fun fact: all humans share 99.9% of DNA, but we also share 50% of our DNA with a banana. If you ...
04/25/2020
Thanks for the Genes! Card

Happy National DNA Day! Fun fact: all humans share 99.9% of DNA, but we also share 50% of our DNA with a banana. If you unraveled the DNA in one human, it would stretch 10 billion miles. If you tried to walk that far, it would take you 361,492 years. 🥵🚶🏻

Today and tomorrow, take 20% off + free shipping in our online store! The code is DNA20 🧬🧬🧬

Thank your mom for your shapely figure or your dad for those dashing good looks – or maybe send a heartfelt thank you for giving you the kind of nose upon which no pair of glasses will ever sit properly, or crazy hair that just won't quit. Whatever the trait, you got those great genes from your pa...

"Before the age of medicine, disease was thought to be a curse on those who had wronged a higher power. Being sick was a...
04/24/2020
A Brief and Contained History of Quarantines

"Before the age of medicine, disease was thought to be a curse on those who had wronged a higher power. Being sick was a punishment. Cautionary moral tales tell stories of people and communities cursed by horrific disease. Don’t want to get sick? Be a good person."

Read more in the blog post "A Brief and Contained History of Quarantines" by Education Intern Emily Baughman!

Published by Emily Baughman When quarantines were done on a house by house basis, notices were posted on the door. “Public Domain Files.” Public Domain Files, Public Health Image Library , From cur…

May 5 is #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity that responds to the need caused by COVID-19. During this t...
04/24/2020
#GivingTuesdayNow to support the International Museum of Surgical Science

May 5 is #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity that responds to the need caused by COVID-19. During this time of isolation, acts of kindness and generosity are what bring us together. If we raise $1,000 or more between April 16, 2020, at 10AM Pacific Time and May 10, 2020, at 11:59PM Pacific Time, GoFundMe will match the amount, doubling your contribution to the Museum!

On May 5th, we’re launching BTS WITH A CURATOR LIVE where we will be thanking our supporters publicly and sharing behind-the-scenes collections photos of their choosing. Want to see a bone saw? We’ve got you covered. A 4,000-year-old skull? No problem--it’s up to you. Our curator will be going live on social media sharing these images from 10AM - 5PM CST so that you can show the world the object you chose.

If you've ever visited the Int'l Museum of Surgical Science, you know that it's unlike any other place in the world. #GivingTuesdayNow

Address

1524 N Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL
60610-8157

Opening Hours

Monday 09:30 - 17:00
Tuesday 09:30 - 17:00
Wednesday 09:30 - 17:00
Thursday 09:30 - 17:00
Friday 09:30 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00
Sunday 10:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(312) 642-6502

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Our Story

Since 1954, the International Museum of Surgical Science has provided education on the history and progress of surgery and related medical sciences to hundreds of thousands of visitors. As a not-for-profit division of the International College of Surgeons, the Museum depicts contributions from around the world to the history, development and advances of surgery and related subjects in health and medicine. Housed in a historic mansion, the Museum building is a City of Chicago Landmark and is listed in the National Register and Illinois Register of Historic Places. The elegant structure, known as the Eleanor Robinson Countiss House, is patterned after Le Petit Trianon, a French chateau built on the grounds of Versailles for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Designed by noted Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, the building was completed in 1917. Original interior finishes of marble and cut stone; decorative plaster work, metal fixtures and hardware; eight fireplaces; and a gilded metal grand staircase are among the features, which have been preserved. The building truly embodies the Gold Coast splendor of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. GENERAL INFORMATION The Museum is closed on the following holidays: Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. IMSS is also closed during the Chicago Air and Water Show weekend. ADMISSION Adults - $17.00 Students, Educators, Members or the Military (with ID) - $13.00 Senior Citizens (ages 65+) - $13.00 Children ages 4–13 (Free for ages 3 & under) - $9.00 Children ages 3 and under - FREE IMSS Members - FREE No Refunds • No Exchanges • No Re-Entry PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION The Museum is easily accessible by bus or train. * The CTA bus #151 stops at North Avenue, half a block north of the Museum. * From the Clark/Division stop of the Red Line elevated train walk east on Division until you reach Lake Shore Drive. Turn north and walk a few blocks to the Museum. * From the Sedgwick stop of the Brown Line and Purple Line Express elevated train, walk east on North Avenue until you reach Lake Shore Drive. Turn south and walk a block to the Museum. For train and bus schedules call the RTA/CTA at 312-836-7000. PARKING Ample discounted parking is available in 3 locations within a few minutes’ walk of the Museum. Retrieve a discounted validation voucher/stamp at the Museum box office to present to the parking attendant upon exiting the lot/ramp. PARKING OPTION Standard Parking Lot - Behind the Chicago History Museum located on Clark and LaSalle Streets, Chicago, IL 60614; entrance on Stockton Drive Standard Parking Lot - in condominium building at 1445 N. State Parkway, Chicago, IL 60610; entrance on Burton Place. Standard Parking Lot - in condominium building at 1350 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60610; entrance on E. Banks Street

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Comments

WOW! I have never been there, and I am very impressed. Thank you.
My friend is a fanatic about surgical museums and we attended the very enjoyable Morbid Curiosities and Surgical History Tour of the museum. The tour happens after hours; so, the small group has the museum to itself which is fantastic. I loved the Vesalius and Albinus anatomical folios, learned about Seishu Hanaoka, and stared at the 4000 yr old trephined Incan skulls. The guide Miranda was very informative and funny and Catherine, the Assistant Manager of Education and Events, was very helpful and welcoming. We joined as members and bought some swag. Highly recommended. 5 stars.
I really enjoyed our visit to your museum...me and my classmates learned a lot and I look forward to coming back soon!
My Microscope said I use for histology.
Karen Ann Steele & I had a great time at the David Allen Reception. The Museum is amazing!
Hi! I'm looking for tickets for 2 for the Valentines event on the 15th? Anyone have them and unable to go? Message me!
Donald and Laney..we gotta check this museum out! Right up my alley
I'm chairing a session at the 2018 ASECS (American Soc. for Eighteenth-Century Studies) Conference in Orlando, FL: "Anatomical Instruction in the Netherlands in the Long Eighteenth Century." Email cv and proposal to graciano at mailbox.sc.edu. Please share. Interested in papers dealing with topics as late as 1820.