Collection Description

The Warren Anatomical Museum is one of the last surviving anatomy and pathology museum collections in the United States. In 1847, Harvard anatomist and surgeon John Collins Warren founded the Museum to preserve and classify specimens and models needed for teaching. Until 1999, the Museum was part of Harvard Medical School's Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. It is now an integral part of the Countway Library's Center for the History of Medicine. No longer a brick and mortar museum, the collection lives on as teaching and research resource. The present collection includes:

  • 3,200 anatomical and osteological preparations
  • 875 wet tissue preparations
  • Over 1,000 watercolors, drawings, photographs, and lantern slides
  • An estimated 1,000 anatomical models and casts
  • 500 human and non-human calculi
  • Roughly 8,500 medical, dental, and public health instruments and devices

Search Tools

The Warren Anatomical Museum does not have a centralized and searchable database. However, there are a number of online tools that contain Museum collections. These are listed below:

  • Read the finding aid to the Museum's administrative, curatorial, teaching, and research activities records created between 1835 and 2010. The majority of the original catalogues can be viewed in the Center for the History of Medicine's Holmes Hall Reading Room
  • Search "Warren Anatomical Museum" in Hollis for Archival Discovery to discover descriptions of objects acquired with Center for the History of Medicine manuscript and archival collections, and objects acquired after January 1, 2018. 
  • Browse digitized Warren Anatomical Museum objects in OnView, the Center for the History of Medicine's digital collections portal.
  • Browse digital exhibits in OnView that contain Museum items. 
  • Submit a reference request to Museum public services staff at chm@hms.harvard.edu

Warren Anatomical Museum Curator & Subject Guide

Digitized works from the Warren Anatomical Museum

Digitized works in the Medical Heritage Library create a window into the historical and modern collections of the Warren Anatomical Museum. Not all of the specimens and objects listed in the below works have survived into modernity but museum staff can check if objects of interest are extant.