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National Museum of Health and Medicine


2500 Linden Lane
Silver Spring, MD 20910
United States

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The National Museum of Health and Medicine, SIlver Spring, Md.
The National Museum of Health and Medicine, SIlver Spring, Md. Donald West

The National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM) was founded as the Army Medical Museum at the height of the Civil War in 1862 by Surgeon General William Hammond. Originally a collection center of specimens for research in military medicine and surgery, the museum’s research pinpointed the cause of yellow fever, developed vaccinations for typhoid fever and oversaw other advancements in the field.

Although it hosts broader exhibits, such as Normal Human Anatomy, for more than 150 years, NMHM has largely focused on the story of military medicine across time. Generations of visitors have viewed the bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln and the shattered right leg bones of Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, amputated at Gettysburg, among other artifacts in “the collection that teaches.” Aside from items related to Civil War medicine, popular recent exhibitions have included looks at the evolution of techniques in the forensic identification of U.S. war dead and an examination of medical treatment during the Spanish-American War. 

The National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, Md.
A collection on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, Md. Donald West

The museum’s current exhibits include Advances in Military Medicine, which incorporates “Trauma Bay II in Balad, Iraq,” a re-creation of the former Air Force tent hospital in Balad that illustrates the latest in battlefield medicine; an anthology exhibit that highlights how earlier advancements, like reconstructive surgery, have gone mainstream;, and “The Legacy of Walter Reed,” which explores the career of the man behind the namesake famous presidential hospital. Digital exhibits also fascinate, including a look at the effects of canister fire during the Civil War, based on examination of the skull of a Black soldier uncovered on Morris Island, S.C., in 1876 — one of the 256 members of the 54th Massachusetts killed assaulting Battery Wagner in July 1863. 

The museum hosts many programs and family-friendly events throughout the year, including Brain Awareness Day on March 16 to learn about neuroscience, as well as prevention and treatment of brain injuries and Bugapalooza on June 22, when bug costumes are encouraged. Free and open to the public Wednesday to Sunday, the facility is located adjacent to U.S. Army Garrison–Forest Glen in Montgomery County, Md.

National Museum of Health and Medicine: What's Nearby

Silver Spring, MD
National Museum of Health and Medicine
Silver Spring, MD
United States Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery
Washington, DC
African American Civil War Memorial and Museum
Washington, DC