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Mushin Museum

Mushin Museum Event: History of Anaesthesia told through World War

11 April 2014

In March this year the Mushin Museum held an open event that aimed to promote thought and discussion about the role of World War in the development of anaesthesia and surgery.  As we enter into four years of World War One commemoration, the event demonstrated how important medical advances can be born from the great tragedies of war; anaesthesia being no exception.

The event started with an informative and thought provoking talk from Rachel Silverson, the curator of ‘Firing Line: Cardiff Castle Museum of the Welsh Soldier’. I highly recommend a visit to her fantastic museum. We learnt of the important role of Welsh soldiers in the War effort during WW1 with stories brought to life through photographs and letters of Welsh serviceman.  Staying with history, Dr Peter Lloyd Jones followed with a masterful account of the ‘Marrett Head’, one of the anaesthetic artefacts from our museum.

Using the state-of-the art simulation suite of Cardiff University’s Cochrane Centre, delegates were then invited to experience both war-time and modern operating theatres- using high fidelity simulation mannequins to demonstrate the evolution of anaesthesia and surgery for leg amputation. Artefacts from the Mushin Museum collection and the Museum of Health & Medicine of Wales breathed life into the interpretation of war-time surgery and anaesthesia.

Two fantastic expert speakers finished the event, giving riveting accounts of modern day military anaesthesia, trauma management and aeromedical evacuation. Major Ami Jones and Wg Cdr Natalie Glover, who both trained and work in Wales, highlighted how medical advances resulting from conflict continue to shape anaesthesia in 2014, one hundred years following the start of World War One.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Mushin Museum volunteers, anaesthetic colleagues and expert speakers who gave up their time to help with this event. Thanks also to Clare Cann from the Cochrane Centre for all her help and Lesley Huckle for the fantastic costumes.

This event was made possible by funding from the Welsh Assembly Government as part of The British Science Association’s National Science and Engineering Week- find out more about the British Science Association here.

If you are interested in helping out with future events and museum activity please email me on