Henry Forman Atkinson Dental Museum

Alex Bauer, Mr McIntosh’s surgery, Colac, Victoria, c. 1888 (Mr McIntosh is assisted by his apprentice, Mr Meadows), photograph on board, 14.2 × 18.8 cm. Gift of Ms Helena Stone, 2013, Henry Forman Atkinson Dental Museum, HFA3145

The Henry Forman Atkinson Dental Museum is the oldest and most significant dental collection in Australia. Tracing its origins back to 1884 with the formation of the Odontological Society of Victoria, the organization responsible for establishing the first dental school in Victoria.

‘Tim Bobbin’ (John Collier, English, 1708–1786) published by Edward Orme (1775–1848) Mirth, Anguish, Plate 8 from series Human passions delineated, 1810, etching, image 16.0 × 21.0 cm. Gift of Dr Dennis Feely 2012, Henry Forman Atkinson Dental Museum, HFA3114

The exciting thing about museums is their role in telling stories. The themes in the museum include innovation, early dentistry, the teaching of dentistry, early women in dentistry, outreach services and World War I, a turning point for the dental profession.  Key personalities are acknowledged such as Professor Reynolds whose ground-breaking research identified that dairy products may reduce the risk of tooth decay. The section on World War 1 covers the establishment of dental corps and the facial reconstruction work of Kenneth Russell.  While the early history of women in dentistry section recalls the contribution of   Frances Blanche ‘Fanny’ Gray (1884–1958) Melbourne Dental School’s first woman dental graduate (1907).

Exhibition view: Henry Forman Atkinson Dental Museum, The University of Melbourne

At the centre of the museum is a display of a nineteenth century dental surgery. Featuring a large glass spittoon, ivory handled dental instruments, elegant velvet covered dental chair and peddle powered drill.

Located in the dental hospital surrounded by student classrooms, the museum is available to students, patients, their families, and the general public.

The Museum is open 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday on the ground floor of the Royal Dental Hospital, 720 Swanston St, Carlton.

Banner Image: Osborne & Sons, Instrument roll, c. 1800, leather, fabric, metal, wood, celluloid, bone; roll 5.5 × 20.5 × 11.0 cm, gift of Victor Henri De Savary Greene 1950s, Medical History Museum, MHM01711