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Heritage Highlights by Theme: Showcasing eclectic & lesser-seen pieces from the collections

For those passing by the Anatomy room in 123 St. Stephen's Green, you may notice the table-top display cases are home to some short-term displays.

We are using broad themes to link and highlight all kinds of Heritage Collections. While themes may re-run in the future, the objects will change, so take a closer look.

Head & Heart

Phrenology head

We have no provenance or date recorded for this item, but this curiosity was recently studied by a cohort of students in the Heritage Collections Student Choice Module. Phrenology is considered a Victorian endeavour to link personality traits with scalp shape. In today’s world it is debunked and seen as problematic. One major point of contention is the belief that head shape can provide insights into underlying brain function. Other widely held criticisms of this pseudoscience relate to biases associated with eugenics, racism, classism and sexism. 


'Clinical lectures on diseases of the heart’, delivered at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Dublin, 1885.
Thomas Hayden (1886).

Trepanning kit

Made by Weiss, London, this trepanning set in a wooden box has four pieces.
As outlined further in the RCSI Heritage Collections publication, Instruments & Innovations, these instruments were used to cut a disc from the cranium.

Skin & Bone


A saw owned and engraved by AB Clery, made by Stille Sweden 1884, and nub of bone wax used by him. These are items from a large, jam-packed briefcase of instruments belonging to Anthony Burton Clery PRCSI, donated by Anthony Patrick Clery FRCSI.


' Reports of hospital cases; on injuries of the wrist and ankle joints ', with plates, William Mac Cormac (1867), Reprinted from the Dublin Quarterly Journal of Medical Science.


Small image of a hand, from the extensive Wallace Collection of artistic renditions of medical cases.

William Wallace is a controversial figure and his contributions to modern medicine have been overshadowed by his questionable methods and unethical approach to research. His name lives on today in the vast collection of medical illustrations relating to the study of skin diseases that he amassed during his lifetime.

For more on these and other exhibitions or collections, bookmark our blog or get in touch with us by email –