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Designated status recognises the remarkable collections of the Royal College of Surgeons

  • Date: 19 February 2013
  • Area: National

The Royal College of Surgeons' combined museum, archive and library collections have been awarded Designated status by Arts Council England. In recognising these collections, the Arts Council believes they are a vital part of our national cultural heritage.

Designation identifies the pre-eminent collections of national and international importance held in England's non-national museums, libraries and archives, based on their quality and significance.

A remarkable breadth of material

This new award recognises the museum, archive and library holdings, which include personal papers of surgeons and scientists which have been donated since the sixteenth century, as well as the College's own institutional records. Also recognised are the library collections of more than 80,000 items covering the teaching of surgery, dental surgery, anatomy and pathology.

The remarkable breadth of material covers comprehensive work relating to surgery, anatomy, pathology, physiology, public health, hospitals, military medicine, infectious diseases, botany and natural history.

The College's Hunterian collections of pathological and anatomical specimens are already recognised by the Scheme, and were originally Designated in 1999.

A rich and diverse collection

Professor Norman Williams, President of The Royal College of Surgeons, said:

'It is fantastic that in the year we commemorate the bicentenary of the Hunterian Museum, the College library, archives and museum have been awarded Designated status. We are extremely proud to house such a rich and diverse collection at the College.

'I know that I, and many other people both medical and non-medical, have been educated and inspired by their visits to the RCS and I am pleased that this has been officially recognised today.'

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said:

'This is great news for the Royal College of Surgeons and it's fantastic to see the importance of this vast and varied collection being formally recognised through our Designation scheme which is part of our overall work to make arts and culture more sustainable and resilient. What makes this even more exciting is that the wider sector and the public will also ultimately benefit from the knowledge sharing and best practise which comes with Designated status.'

What it means to be have Designated status

Organisations holding Designated collections are expected to work towards the provision of high-quality services which deliver the fullest possible public access to those collections, and to take a leadership role in the sector by helping other cultural institutions in ways such as sharing expertise, offering advice and lending objects or materials.

Find out more by reading the Designation and supporting museums pages of our website.