St Bartholomew's Hospital is approaching the 900th anniversary of its foundation in 1123; the hospital museum tells the story of nine centuries of healthcare at the edge of the City of London. The permanent exhibition of original and facsimile archives, objects and works of art, includes Rahere’s grant of 1137 - the oldest document in the hospital archives - and the 1546 agreement between Henry VIII and the City of London which refounded the hospital. The objects on display in the museums are only a small part of the collections - to find out more, search our catalogue online.
The museum is located in the hospital’s historic North Wing, adjoining the Grand Staircase with its vast and spectacular paintings by William Hogarth, and overlooks the famous 18th century square designed by James Gibbs.
St Bartholomew's Hospital Museum recently reopened to visitors following a prolonged closure due to Covid-19. As a small museum dependent on volunteers, we are currently only able to open two days a week – every Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 4pm. We hope to increase the number of opening days back to four days a week in due course.
Please note that opening hours may occasionally be subject to change at short notice due to staff or volunteer absence or changing public health guidance, so please check our Twitter account for up-to-date information on openings or call us on the day if you are making a special journey. You can also email us with any queries regarding the museum.
Regarding Forests: an immersive art installation in the North Wing
During September-November 2021, visitors to the museum will also be able to experience photographer Chrystel Lebas' installation Regarding Forests. The installation is located on the ground floor of the North Wing, close to the museum. Lebas' monumental photographs of temperate rainforests create an atmosphere of tranquility and provide visitors with a restorative encounter that reminds us of our reliance on the natural world. The installation marks the start of a new engagement programme that unites heritage and health in the historic spaces of the North Wing at Barts. Regarding Forests is presented in partnerships with Barts Heritage and Wellcome Collection.
Covid-19 safety measures, and planning your visit
The museum is located on a working hospital site, and for the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff, we have a number of additional measures in place during the current pandemic:
- To ensure social distancing, visitors are advised to follow the one-way route around the museum. There are no restrictions on how long you can stay in the Museum.
- In line with Barts Health NHS Trust guidance, visitors are required to wear a face covering in the museum, , unless exempt under the UK government guidance.
- If you are feeling unwell, please do not visit, and follow NHS guidance.
- Space is the museum is limited, so we are currently unable to host booked groups.
- Windows and doors will be opened to ensure good ventilation of the museum space.
- We encourage visitors to check into the museum when they visit, using the Test and Trace app using the QR code onsite. [Your details collected by the NHS app are not accessible to museum staff or volunteers].
For more information on what to expect when you visit, please download our Plan your visit [pdf] information sheet below carefully before your visit. For details of our access arrangements, please see our Access statement [pdf].
Support for St Bartholomew's Hospital Museum
As we approach the 900th anniversary of St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 2023 there has never been a more important time to support the museum. Please consider making a donation when you visit or click here to donate.
Downloadable KS2 learning resources
Our new learning resources, based on the history of St Bartholomew’s Hospital and some of the fascinating items from our collections, are FREE to download. The resource pack is designed to introduce children to the story of the hospital’s nine century history of healthcare – it is not necessary to visit the museum to use it. The pack is aimed at KS2 children, and supports cross-curricular learning, linking to English, Maths, Science and PSHE as well as History.
The resources consist of a Discovery sheet, highlighting facts and themes from the hospital’s story, and three Activity sheets. There is also an answer sheet providing sample answers to the Activity questions. The resources can be used in the classroom or for home-based learning. We would like to thank the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths for their generous support for the development of the resource pack.
Please use the links below to download the pack:
Historic Smithfield and Farringdon
We are not currently able to offer historic tours of the North Wing.
The Norman priory church founded by Rahere, now known as St Bartholomew the Great, is only a few minutes walk from the museum, and the hospital church, St Bartholomew the Less, neighbours the North Wing on the hospital site. Both beautiful churches are open to visitors and worshippers under social distancing guidelines.
St Bartholomew's Hospital Museum is one stop on the Historic Farringdon walk, part of the Epic England GPS guided walk series on the Geotourist app. While the museum is closed, enjoy the walk to find out more about our historic neighbourhood, including the Barbican, Smithfield Market, and the Charterhouse, as well as the hospital itself.
Please note, St Bartholomew's Hospital Museum does not hold specimens. Barts Pathology Museum, also on the hospital site, is part of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, and is not normally open to the public.
Publications for sale
While the museum is closed, you can still order items from our small shop, which sells a range of books, prints and postcards - please see our publications for sale list for details [pdf]. To order any of these items, please email us.