Museum and History of Medicine

The Division of the History of Medicine

The Division of the History of Medicine is located within the Medical Library. The first head of the unit was Prof. Joshua O. Leibowitz (1895-1993). He attained international fame, and was for several years the President of the International Academy of the History of Medicine. His disciple, Prof. Emeritus Samuel S. Kottek was the second incumbent, from 1975 till 2000, and still constitutes the living spirit of the museum. The unit is headed by a senior medical faculty member who is in charge of the teaching, ongoing research, and tutoring of MD and PhD theses.


The Museum of History of Medicine

The library houses a Museum of the History of Medicine. Dr. Siegfried Plaschkes was the initiator of the Museum which was later transferred to the Hebrew University Medical Library. It contains collections of medals, ex-libris (bookplates), Hebrew amulets, medical stamps, a number of ancient instruments, and more. The Berman Medical Library oversees maintenance and management of the museum. Ongoing digitization of the collection is part of the library’s digital collections.


The Historical Book Collection

This collection contains written works about the history of medicine and related subjects from the 19th century onwards, and rare books and facsimilies dating back to the 13th century. In addition, the library holds a collection dealing with the works of Rambam (Maimonides) that was donated by Dr. Zussman Muntner. This collection is one of its kind and is one of the most important collections in Israel.

The history of medicine books and rare book collection are searchable in the Hebrew University libraries catalog.

Access to the rare book collection by appointment –

GO AND LEARN History of Medicine Exhibition

Experience the world of medical examination, diagnosis, prognosis and education, via the collections of various physicians which form the basis for the museum.

In ancient Greek medicine, since Hippocratic times (5th century BCE), human physiology was based on the theory of the “Four Humors”. Modern surgery followed a better understanding of the human body when Vesalius became Professor at the University of Padua in the 16th century and published his masterpiece, the Fabrica. The advancement of physiology, the invention of the microscope and discovering the germ theory of disease led to cures for many infectious diseases. 18th century military doctors improved trauma treatment, first aid and surgery. Modern medicine developed with the introduction of new biological treatments, developments in chemistry, genetics and laboratory technology Professionalization, resulted in better trained nurses from the late 19th century and specialized physicians in the 20th century.
Recent advances in medical sciences are built on the foundations of past generations and an understanding of the medical past can still teach us much of what remains important to the physicians of today and tomorrow.

The Museum is open during Library hours.
For group visits and for guided tours, please contact the library, 02-6757602.