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Selina Hurley

As part of the medical curatorial team, Selina works on the medical galleries redevelopment project and has a broad interest in the history of medicine and medical science. During her time at the museum, Selina has worked on meteorites, clocks, climate science and almost everything in between.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the death of Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853-1936). As part of his will, the Wellcome Trust was founded. The Trust is now the largest independent funder of medical research in the UK.   Henry Wellcome was a prolific collector of all things medical. “Medicine has a history which has touched every phase of life and art and is to a large extent, bound up with records of human existence from earliest times.” – H. Wellcome On […]

Today would have been the 15th birthday of the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep. Named after the singer Dolly Parton, Dolly caused quite a storm when the news first broke of her birth. In September 1997, a competition called ‘Do a Design for Dolly’ was launched by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and supported by Portman Building Society. In March the following year, a 12-year-old girl, Holly Wharton, was announced as the winner. Her design was made from Dolly’s wool […]

This time of year, gowns and mortar-boards are rented in their thousands in preparation for graduation ceremonies around the country. For medical students, after five years of undergraduate study you can probably imagine their relief. Obtaining a degree in medicine has been the mainstay of the medical profession for centuries. However, licensed and strictly regulated medicine hasn’t always been the most dominant with competition from a range of other practitioners or widely available for all. Even in the history of […]

Working in a museum presents all sorts of opportunities you never thought possible. But I imagine few curators have uttered the sentence: “I’m just off to Holland to pick up Napoleon’s toothbrush.” This is exactly my task next week. It’s been on loan to the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden and is normally on display at the Wellcome Collection. Regular readers of this blog will know we like an anniversary and it just so happens that Napoleon died on 5th May 1821, […]

The 3rd May marks the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain. The Festival celebrated the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851 at Crystal Palace as well as advances in British science, technology, manufacturing and art. You won’t be surprised to hear that some of our objects were displayed there. On first look, these fabric samples appear to be simple circular designs. To the trained eye however, the pattern is based on the structure of haemoglobin produced by x-ray […]

How do you develop a new medical tool? Many of the objects in the Science Museum’s collections are the finished article. You rarely see the hours of perspiration or the moment of inspiration that led to the tool being made in the first place. This is why I really enjoy looking at and researching prototypes. Developed by Kenneth Dobbie in the 1960s, these saws were the first step towards creating a power-operated saw for use during hip replacement surgery. He was working as an Electrical Safety […]

Continuing with my Nobel Prize theme, I’ve been looking at the collections relating to Ronald Ross (1857-1932). Ross won the Nobel Prize for Physiology /Medicine in 1902 for his work on malaria. In 1897, five years after he started working on malaria, Ross established the life cycles of the mosquito. He proved the hypothesis of his predecessors Alphonse Laveran and Patrick Manson. Laveran would later win the 1907 Nobel Prize for his work. But he wasn’t the only one working on the […]

March is National Women’s History Month. To coincide with the centenary of the Nobel Prizes, it seems an ideal time to look at the achievements of Marie Curie (1897-1934). Marie Curie was the first scientist to win two Nobel Prizes – one in 1903 with her husband Pierre and the another in 1911 for Chemistry for her work on radioactivity. Like many of the objects Marie Curie used in her work, this flask has slight traces of radioactivity and needs to be […]

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about the items in our collections used to record the thoughts and ideas of practitioners of science and medicine. We have a great number of inkwells, pens and pencils belonging to scientists and doctors, some famous, like Louis Pasteur and others less so. Some of these items have almost a relic status about them having been owned by scientists and doctors who made a great impact on the history of science and medicine. Knowing […]

The first Nobel Prizes were awarded 110 years ago. They were named after Alfred Nobel who made a provision in his will for annual prizes for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace. Prize winners are announced every June and awarded in December. Unsurprisingly, a large number of Nobel Prize winners are represented in the Science Museum’s collections and over the course of the year we’ll highlight a few of them in this blog. The first prize winner in the Physiology and Medicine […]

Following the release of The King’s Speech with Colin Firth, it inspired me to look into the two brothers of the film, Edward VIII and George VI using the Science Museum’s collections as my pool of reference. I was pleasantly surprised with the things I found. Following a visit to an orthopaedic hospital in Stoke-on-Trent, the then future Edward VIII, had his hand x-rayed. It was a way of showing off a technology that by the 1930s was in every hospital […]

I often get asked what skills you need to be a curator. As a medical curator, the one I’ve found most useful is having a strong stomach. Unsurprisingly, we have large amounts of blood-related items in the collections including bleeding bowls, lancets, leech jars, cupping sets and even mechanical leeches. Blood was let from patients to restore their the balance of their humours. For instance, a fever was a sign of too much hot blood running through the body so to return equilibrium, […]