International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago

#6 of 8 in Childrens Museums in Chicago
Science Museum · Hidden Gem · Specialty Museum
The International Museum of Surgical Science is a museum located in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. It is operated by The International College of Surgeons and features exhibits dealing with various aspects of Eastern and Western medicine. It was founded by Dr. Max Thorek in 1954. The museum's exhibits are displayed by theme or surgical discipline. Displays include photographs, paintings and drawings, sculpture, medical equipment, skeletons, medical specimens and historic artifacts. The library contains more than 5,000 rare medical texts.
Housed in a 1917 mansion designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw as a replica of a building at Versailles, the museum was originally built for Chicago socialite Eleanor Robinson Countiss Whiting who died in 1931. The International College of Surgeons acquired the building in 1950. In addition to displaying medical artifacts the museum has, since 1998, hosted a number of contemporary art exhibitions in an effort to broaden its appeal to visitors. In 2010 visitor numbers were at 20,000 a year, by 2013 this had increased to between 25,000 and 30,000.
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International Museum of Surgical Science reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
189 reviews
  • Fun and strangely interesting pieces. Pharmaceuticals of long ago. Marble statues of prominent men and women in medicine. Scalpels, an iron lung with much more. The ever changing leaps and bounds of.....  more »
  • As someone being in the medical field, I really enjoyed this museum. They are still adding stuff to the exhibits, but I would recommend.  more »
  • The house and the Museum collection are both worth the visit. The house is a beautiful old mansion on the lake. The collection of medical and surgical devices and the stories they tell are so interesting. The docents were friendly and helpful. The building still has the original, working elevator, which I was able to use because I have trouble with the stairs. Don't forget to visit the gift shop!
  • The museum was great! Lots of interesting tools and great information to back it all up. It was so cool to see how little things have changed since the early days of medicine. The receptionist was great and helpful and super sweet considering we came in from the driving rain soaking wet. We walked around for about 3-4 hours reading everything while we dried out. At 10 til five we headed down to check out the gift shop and there was a second incredibly rude “worker” there. She was being very condescending to those who were trying to check in and buy tickets for an after hours opera and she was controlling the only register even though her patrons were forced to download and use a specific app to buy her tickets. We were told that we had 1 minute to find everything and check out. When another patron asked about an item that didn’t have a price sticker (nothing was marked), she was told to wait while an opera patron was given preferential treatment. Then we were all told to leave with out being given prices after our minute was up. When we raised objection we were told to shop online. She was incredibly rude. Maybe if the store allowed patrons to purchase souveniers they would have more money to afford more polite staff like the first lady who greeted us when we walked in. Rating based on staff friendliness that ruined an otherwise amazing experience.

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