About the Museum

Mission Statement

The Old Red Medical Museum at UTMB, Galveston. A place to preserve and present, educate, foster research, and inspire medical learning for all. Featuring the medical heritage collections at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, the Old Red Medical Museum seeks to engage and inspire diverse audiences through stories, exhibitions, and research at the birthplace of Texas medicine. 

Vision Statement

The Old Red Medical Museum at UTMB, preserves and showcases Galveston’s medical heritage. It is a pre-eminent local, national, and international leader in generating historical and contemporary inspirational stories that educate future generations.

Background of the Museum

A New Medical Museum in “Old Red”

For more than a century, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has been the steward of a national architectural treasure, the Ashbel Smith Building, affectionately known as “Old Red.” Designed by Nicholas J. Clayton and completed in 1890, this red brick and sandstone landmark is the only structure in the country that once housed a complete medical school.

A Unique Opportunity

When Hurricane Ike bore down on Galveston in September 2008, the top floor of “Old Red” still served as UTMB’s gross anatomy laboratory, one of its original amphitheaters as the venue for lectures. Because medical school classes had become too large for the space, the lab relocated permanently while university administrations and restoration specialists, ever sensitive to the structure’s history, went about repairing damage done by water and wind.

Information for Visitors/Access

The museum is at the development phase and therefore is not open on a regular basis. Special events, including exhibitions and tours will be posted on the Events & News page. If you have any further questions, please submit your inquiry via the Contact page.

An Inspiring Coincidence

Thanks to the efforts of UTMB staff, the university’s collection of approximately 2,000 historical anatomical and pathological wet and dry specimens survived Ike intact. Some dated back to the late 19th Century and represented diseases since conquered. However, these painstakingly prepared specimens, used to train generations of physicians, are in constant danger of deterioration if not carefully maintained.

  • What if these precious parts of America’s medical and educational heritage could be preserved and presented to the public in the very space where they were prepared?
  • What if they could become the foundation for a modern interpretive museum focused on the history and future of health sciences?
  • The Old Red Medical Museum will present the stories of medical and nursing education at UTMB, from the late 19th Century to today and into the future…
  • The stories of the faculty, students and staff who have been involved in the work of UTMB…
  • The story of the evolving medical needs of the Texas Gulf Coast region, including diseases prevalent in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and how the disease burden has changed over time…
  • The story of the ethical issues surrounding the use of bodies and body parts in health care education and research …
The Medical Department of the University of Texas, ("Old Red"), circa 1895 Dr. William Keiller teaching anatomy, circa 1920
School of Nursing Graduates, 1895 Former Anatomical Display, third floor, "Old Red", circa 1900