A New Decade for BMM

With the new decade comes new opportunities for us here at Bath Medical Museum, but also many new challenges. Some of you may already know about us, having supported our cause from its very beginning way back in 2012. For many, this will be the first time you have encountered Bath Medical Museum. Whichever it is, we are glad you have found us and hope that our new website will provide you with lots of information about our recent developments, as well as engaging content related to Bath’s fascinating medical history.

Our New Home

The biggest change, and indeed recent challenge, for BMM was our recent move from our previous home. In 2012 the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (RNHRD), located in the former Royal Mineral Water Hospital, had opened a small museum to showcase their collection. Following the sale of the Royal Mineral Water Hospital building, affectionately known as the Min, and the acquisition of the RNHRD by the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (RUH), a clear need was identified to secure the future of the range of artefacts and artwork in the RNHRD collection housed in the Min.

Bath Medical Museum (BMM) gained independent charitable status in 2017 in order to continue managing and promoting the fledgling museum and to seek funding and location for a permanent medical museum in Bath. The museum has since grown and, in addition to hosting much of the RNHRD Collection on loan from the RUH, now includes the John Kirkup Collection as well as a number of loans and donations from private individuals.

During 2019 we worked closely with our colleagues from Art at the Heart of the RUH to assist in and manage the relocation of various artefacts from the Min, and after much searching also managed to find our new home at No. 35-36 Great Pulteney Street, where we have been welcomed by The Pulteney Practice GP Surgery. Several of the artworks and objects from the Min have been included in the displays curated by Art at the Heart in the new RNHRD & Brownsword Therapies Centre at the RUH. Many more from the RNHRD Collection, along with Bath Medical Museum’s own collections, now reside in our new home in Pulteney Street, where the museum’s office and permanent displays are located, and also at our collections store, located at the Practice’s Bathampton Surgery.

Our New Projects

Although these new circumstances bring with them new challenges, including greater costs to the museum in the form of its lease and operational expenditure, they also bring with them great potential for the future development of the museum. If you take a look at the Learning page on this website you will see the beginnings of our new Learning Programme, currently being developed in partnership with our colleagues at The Pulteney Practice, which we hope will bring the medical history of Bath to new audiences, including schools, patients and community groups alike, in all its wonderful and gory detail.

Under the Curation section you will also find the beginnings of our new Digital Curation Centre. This is where we hope to develop ways of bringing the medical history of Bath, and the museum’s collections of artefacts, to you through virtual and digital recreations and story-telling. As the majority of the museum’s collections are currently in store, with only a few items used for exhibitions or permanent display, it is crucial we develop an alternative way for our audiences to engage with the collections. That is why we are developing a Digital Curation Strategy which will ensure we make as much of the collection and the museum’s interpretation content available and accessible to you through this website. But remember, what you see is just the beginning – the first phase – of the process. So, do come back to the website regularly for new and updated content!

Our Future

Our mission is to preserve and promote the history and importance of medicine in the city of Bath, with a focus on the importance of its thermal waters in treatment, therapy and wellbeing; and to advocate the benefits of education, health and wellbeing for all. This website and new virtual content are but one aspect of the new Bath Medical Museum. Our vision is that the museum will engage and educate diverse audiences through a variety of traditional and modern methods such as exhibitions, digital content, guided tours and events.

Alongside the new website and Learning Programme, we are also developing new plans for regular exhibitions, events and other activities for you across the city of Bath. Our hope is that, with the help of our partners, and your support, we can realise our vision of a vibrant, city-wide museum with engaging activities, which allow us to promote the benefits of education, health and well-being for all, whether patient, resident, medical staff or tourist. We aim to become a true ‘museum without walls’, one of the first in Bath. Yet, we can not achieve this without your help. That is why you will also find, under the Support Us section, a variety of ways you can help us or get involved, from donating money or buying membership, to supporting one of our fundraising campaigns, offering an object on loan for an exhibition, or volunteering. There are many ways you can help us and get involved. Your support is vital – without it we will not achieve the full potential of our mission.

The story of Bath’s medical and spa heritage is a crucial part of the city’s identity and one which is often under-represented. By supporting and engaging with us, you are making sure that story is preserved and told for future generations in a way that will benefit everyone.

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Stephen J. Dunning
Bath Medical Museum