Nicholas Copernicus 1473-1543

Nicholas Copernicus 1473-1543

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We invite you to see our exhibition in the reading room of the Main Library of WUM, where we present the figure of Nicolaus Copernicus as a doctor.

Nicolaus Copernicus lived in an era at the turn of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, a period of great changes and discoveries, a revival of the humanistic ideals of antiquity and a belief in the power of human reason. At the same time, there were still very close links between astronomy, astrology and medicine. It was believed that celestial bodies, and in particular the location and motion of stars and planets, had a direct impact on human health.

Nicolaus Copernicus went down in history mainly as an astronomer and creator of the heliocentric system, but being a versatile man of the Renaissance he also dealt with mathematics, physics, economics and philosophy. He was a doctor of law and a statesman. His area of interest was geography, especially cartography, he built dams and aqueducts. He was finally a doctor who practiced medicine for over 40 years.

After studying in Cracow (1491-1495) and after completing his law studies in Bologna (1495-1500), in 1501 Nicolaus began his medical studies at the University of Padua, famous for its high level of teaching, anatomical theatre and excellent professors, lecturers of both theoretical and practical medicine. As a model of the Renaissance, many of these professors-doctors were humanists, philosophers, astronomers and astrology.

The studies were four-degree. The first and second degrees were devoted to the study and interpretation of the works of Avicenna, Galen and Hippocrates, the third to practical medicine, and the fourth to surgery. The duration of the studies lasted at least three years, and in addition it was necessary to complete a year of practice under the supervision of an outstanding doctor. After two years a bachelor’s degree was obtained, after three years a bachelor’s degree, which authorized the practice of medicine.

Copernicus completed three years of studies supplemented by practical experience, which enabled him to obtain a bachelor’s degree and authorized him to practice medicine.

In 1503 Nicolaus Copernicus returned to Warmia and became the doctor of other Warmia bishops. He also treated outside the borders of the Diocese of Warmia, visiting the sick in Gdansk and Königsberg. In his medical activity, Copernicus established scientific contacts with prominent doctors of the Renaissance, establishing with them the diagnosis of more difficult cases of disease. Familiar with hygiene and epidemiology in Padua, he helped during the outbreak of infectious disease on the coast and in Warmia.

He deepened his medical knowledge by reading many works in the field of medicine. His collection included works by dozens of authors, both ancient medical authorities and contemporary textbooks on internal diseases, surgery and anatomy, as well as practical medicine. In some of the found medical works, which were the property of Copernicus, his handwritten notes related to medical practice and prescriptions are preserved in the margins. In the margin of one of them, he wrote, “Remember that, doctor! It is true Avicenna’s saying that the ignorant leads to murder, and therefore his saying should be remembered by every prudent physician.”

The doctor’s duties included not only writing the right prescription, but also preparing the medicine himself and delivering it to the patient. Copernicus’ prescriptions were no different from other prescriptions of doctors in Europe at that time. Nicholas used ingredients derived from folk medicine and recommended by Dioscurides, Avicenna and other masters of medical therapy. However, he avoided the then popular remedies not associated with medicine today, such as urine, frogs, snake bats, animal claws or poisonous substances. Nicholas tried to keep rationality and prudence, believing that short recipes are best.

Copernicus as a physician did not make any breakthrough in medicine, although he was one of the most prominent physicians – practitioners of the Renaissance era. For us, he is above all a brilliant astronomer, whose manuscript of On the Rotations of the Celestial Spheres was inscribed on the UNESCO World Memory List in 1999. For his contemporaries, Copernicus was above all a doctor, as evidenced by his portraits from the era with the lily of the valley in his hand – a medieval symbol of medical art.

Long Night of Museums 2023 at the WUM Museum of the History of Medicine

“Discover the Enigmas of the Dentist’s and Pharmacist’s Workshop”

On the evening of 13th May 2023, the WUM Museum of the History of Medicine hosted the Long Night of Museums, which commenced at 7 p.m. and concluded at 1 a.m.

Numerous visitors got a chance to explore temporary and permanent exhibitions:


  1. “Vita Brevis Ars Longa”
  2. “200 Years of Medical Education in Warsaw”
  3. The History of the Faculty of Pharmacy
  4. The History of the Faculty of Dentistry
  5. The History of Transplantation Medicine in Poland
  6. The mesmerizing “Anatomical Theatre” – a multimedia show featuring cutting-edge 3D technology, expertly curated with the invaluable contribution of WUM students.

Among most popular activities were the following workshops.

The “Dental Prevention” workshop, organized in collaboration with the Polish Dental Students’ Society (PTSS), featured the following informative activities:

(a) An educational stand hosted by the Polish Dental Students’ Society, which provided guidance on proper tooth brushing techniques.
(b) A free dental check-up administered by students from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.
(c) An interactive stand titled “Drilling in Teeth – Yesterday and Today,” which offered insights into the evolution of dental techniques.

Additionally, the “Practical Pharmacy” workshop, facilitated by the Polish Society of Pharmacy Students (PTSF), offered visitors the opportunity to:

  • Create their own ointments or creams.
  • Observe various specimens through microscopes, including parasites and botanical samples.
  • Participate in a board game centred around pharmaceutical care.

The “Health under Control” stands, hosted by IFMSA students, provided a range of activities, such as:

  • Registration as potential donors for bone marrow and blood stem cells in the DKMS database.
  • Sugar level testing and blood pressure measurement.
  • Assessment of body composition and weight.
  • Spirometry sessions
  • Hands-on training with laparoscopic surgery equipment.

Furthermore, the Poltransplant expert stand titled “Transplantations” offered insights in the field of organ transplantation.

Throughout the Long Night of Museums, visitors were could take part in lectures by esteemed professionals, including:

  • “Wisdom Tooth” by Dr. Marcin Aluchna.
  • “The Beginnings of Pharmacy Education in Warsaw, 1809-1879” by Dr. Maria Turos.
  • “Facts and Myths about Marrow Donation” by Poltransplant representative, Klaudia Nestorowicz-Kałużna.
  • “About Organ Transplantation” by Teresa Danek.

Additionally, attendees had the opportunity to win museum t-shirts and mugs.

Vita Brevis Ars Longa


Dear all, ladies and gentlemen,

The Museum of the History of Medicine at the Medical University of Warsaw extends a warm invitation to the opening of the exhibition titled: “VITA BREVIS ARS LONGA…” The event will take place on 12th December (Monday) at 10 a.m. in the Library and Information Centre, specifically in the Temporary Exhibitions Gallery on the first floor.

This exhibition focuses on the pinnacle of ancient Greek medicine. At its heart lies Hippocrates and his enduring legacy, alongside the ancient gods of Greek medicine. The exhibition’s title, “VITA BREVIS ARS LONGA…,” is the Latin rendition of Hippocrates’ maxim, which translates to “Life is short, art is long…” This saying emphasises that a single lifetime is insufficient to master the art of medicine, requiring the collective efforts of many generations.

We look forward to your presence at the opening of this exhibition, where you can delve into the rich world of ancient Greek medicine.


200 Years of Medical Education in Warsaw


Dear Sir/Madam,

We kindly invite you to attend our latest exhibition titled “200 Years of Medical Education in Warsaw,” a collaborative effort between the Office of Communication and Promotion. This exhibition will be held at the Teaching Centre, located on the first floor at 2a Ks. Trojdena Street, starting from 5th October 2022.

This exhibition provides a profound exploration of the historical evolution of medical education in Warsaw since its inception in 1809 with the establishment of the Academic Department of Medicine. Later the establishing of Medical Department within the Royal University of Warsaw, the Medical and Surgical Academy, the Medical Department under the Main School, the Russian-language Imperial University of Warsaw, and the subsequent revival of the Polish-language University of Warsaw. Moreover, the exhibition sheds light on the arduous narrative of clandestine medical education during the period of World War II, as well as the post-war reestablishment of the Medical Department. Additionally, it delves into the transformative journey of the Medical Department at the University of Warsaw, attaining the status of an independent Medical Academy, and culminates with its renaming as the Warsaw Medical University.

To bring these historical accounts to life, the exhibition showcases a curated selection of visual materials from the archives of the Museum of the History of Medicine at the Warsaw Medical University. Furthermore, the exhibition benefits from contributions from the Archives of Ancient Acts, the National Museum in Warsaw, the National Digital Archives, and contemporary photographs to depict the modern facets of medicine by the Office of Communication and Promotion at WUM. Furthermore, the exhibition features original medals, documents, and photographs which are a heritage of our Alma Mater.

Picture of Days

The Museum of the History of Medicine at the Medical University of Warsaw cordially invites you to an exhibition of paintings by Wanda Piskorska titled “Picture of Days.

Wanda Piskorska, a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, skilfully explores the challenging theme of the traumatic experience of a pandemic in her presented artworks. The series “Picture of Days” was created as part of the Scholarship of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. The exhibition is curated by Monika Klimowska.

You can visit the exhibition from 19th October 2022 to 9th January 2023 at the Museum, located at 63 Żwirki i Wigury Street, 02-091 Warsaw. The exhibition is open from 9:00 to 16:00, and admission is free.

Anatomical Warm-up


The inaugural edition of the “Anatomical Warm-up” for first-year students at WUM took place at the Museum on the 14th of June 2022, from 14:00 to 22:30. Organized by students from the Ars Medica organization in collaboration with Museum staff, this event offered a comprehensive revision session before the Anatomy exams. Six stands were set up, featuring models from various sections, including head and neck, osteology and limbs, abdominal cavity, and thoracic cavity. A highlight of the event was the course on radiological “pins,” (a colloquial name for anatomical examinations where object in question are marked with pins). Anatomical models were generously provided by the Museum, the WUM Library, and the WUM Department of Normal and Clinical Anatomy. The substantive supervision of the “Anatomical Warm-up” was led by Dr. Mikołaj Sługocki.

Exhibition dedicated to Prof. Tadeusz Koszarowski


We extend a warm invitation to join us in viewing the new exhibition at the WUM Library and Information Centre, located in the reading room on the second floor. The exhibition, running from 20th May 2022 to 20th March 2023, pays tribute to the life and achievements of Prof. Tadeusz Koszarowski (1915-2002), a renowned surgeon, oncologist, scientist, healthcare organizer, social activist, humanist, and athlete.

Within the displays, you will find carefully selected memorabilia from the Professor’s legacy, generously donated to the Museum by Anna and Piotr Zborowski. Tadeusz Koszarowski served as the director of the Institute of Oncology in Warsaw for an extended period and was the driving force behind the creation of the Oncology Centre in Ursynów.

The professor’s contributions were far-reaching, as he developed innovative cancer prevention programs and pioneered diagnosis and treatment procedures through a nationwide network of oncology facilities. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in the establishment of Polish oncological surgery and initiated the National Cancer Control Programme.

This exhibition serves as a testament to Prof. Tadeusz Koszarowski’s lasting impact on the field of oncology and healthcare in Poland. We encourage you to join us in celebrating his life and extraordinary accomplishments.

Long Night of Museums at the 21st Century Anatomical Theatre


Ladies and Gentlemen, this Saturday, 14th May, from 7:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., we extend a warm invitation to join us for the Long Night of Museums at the WUM Museum of the History of Medicine. This event offers a unique opportunity to explore a modern museum and educational space while delving into the mysteries of the human body at the “Anatomical Theatre of the 21st Century.” Continuing the traditions of European anatomical theatres, this arrangement promises an enlightening experience.

During the Long Night of Museums, we have an exciting line-up of activities and presentations. One of the highlights is a captivating 3D multimedia show accompanied by an anatomy lesson conducted by WUM ArsMedica students. We will also feature a film titled “Milestones,” which delves into the captivating history of anatomy.

In addition to these main attractions, we are delighted to offer the following:


  1. “Anatomy Lesson” – A multimedia show utilizing advanced 3D technology.
  2. “Spontaneous Rescue” – A first aid workshop covering wound dressing and CPR. Hosted by students from IFMSA-Poland Warsaw Branch.


  • “Health under Control” (Operated by students from IFMSA-Poland Warsaw Branch)
  • Activities related to healthy nutrition, blood pressure and sugar measurement, DKMS registration, and cancer prevention self-monitoring.


  • 20:30: Dr Hanna Pliszka will deliver a lecture on “Anatomy and Pathology in Paintings from the Collection of the Pinacoteca of Milan.” Dr Pliszka, an anthropologist at the Department of Normal and Clinical Anatomy at the Medical University of Warsaw, specializes in human biology, anatomy, and paleopathology. Through her studies of human remains, she unravels mysteries from the past.
  • 21:30: Aleksandra Hyży will present on “Food and Health through the Ages – What Was on Our Plates.” Aleksandra Hyży is a dietitian and a PhD student at the Department of Education and Research in Health Sciences, WUM. She is currently completing an additional Master’s degree in Public Health. Her primary research interests revolve around health education, health promotion, and communication.

Join us for an engaging and informative Long Night of Museums as we delve into the fascinating world of human anatomy and its historical significance.

INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE OF THE ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY MUSEUMS “Academic heritage for the future of science” 26-29 April 2022, Warsaw


The International Scientific Conference of the Association of University Museums, titled “Academic heritage for the future of science,” took place in Warsaw between 26th and 29th April 2022. Our Museum was privileged to participate in this prestigious event. On Wednesday 27th April, Grażyna Jermakowicz, the Museum Director, delivered a speech on anatomy lessons in the Anatomical Theatre of the 21st Century. On Friday 29th April, our Museum had the honour of welcoming esteemed representatives from university museums in Poland and abroad. This distinguished group included key European heritage and academic museum organizations such as UMAC ICOM (International Council of Museums Committee for University Museums and Collections) and UNIVERSEUM (European Academic Heritage Network). Our guests had the opportunity to explore our permanent and temporary exhibitions. Additionally, first- and second-year students from the Faculty of Medicine at WUM presented on the multimedia lessons conducted in the 21st-century Anatomical Theatre and the growing collaboration between students and the Museum of the History of Medicine.

The art of healing in painting and printmaking of the modern era


Ladies and Gentlemen, we cordially invite you to explore our newly opened exhibition located in the connector between the Rectorate and LIC (Library-Information Centre) buildings. The Museum of the History of Medicine at the Medical University of Warsaw takes great pride in presenting reproductions of paintings and prints, primarily focusing on Dutch and Flemish art from the 17th century. The central theme of the exhibition revolves around the interaction between patient and doctor.

The equating relationship between medicine and art can be traced back to the classical definition of art, first articulated by Aristotle and further developed by St. Thomas Aquinas. According to Aquinas, art is the principle of creating intentional works that aim to compensate for the deficiencies left by nature. He famously stated, “Ars imitatur naturam et suplet defectum naturae in illis inquibus” (“Art imitates nature and compensates for its deficiencies.”). When we reflect upon the most profound deficiency experienced by humans, it becomes evident that it is the lack of health. In a similar vein, medicine also imitates nature, particularly in its fundamental characteristic of intentionality. The art of medicine recognizes the potential to address and remedy specific deficiencies permitted by nature, acting as a reflection of knowledge about the world and a means to restore it. This humanistic purpose is crucial in preventing the scientific dimension from overshadowing the essence of medicine—the patient—and ensuring that medical care does not reduce the human being to a mere case of illness.

The journey towards medicine’s recognition of the laws of nature was fraught with challenges and obstacles. Prior to the 20th century, even less severe illnesses could often result in death or permanent disability. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the relationship between the sick person and the healer was a prevalent theme in fine arts, sometimes depicted with a touch of humour.

Genre painting gained popularity during the modern era, particularly among Dutch and Flemish artists. They explored various aspects of everyday life and incorporated them into their works. Medicine became a popular subject, with artists portraying doctors engrossed in caring for sick and suffering individuals, as well as condemning the actions of charlatans and ridiculing the gullibility of uneducated patients. These scenes were often set in humble inns, bustling fairs, or the homes of the affluent bourgeoisie.

One recurring subject depicted in these artworks was the examination of the pulse and urinalysis by physicians. Another frequently portrayed motif was doctors being summoned to attend to girls afflicted with lovesickness. Toothaches were often satirized by artists, along with depictions of simple surgical procedures performed by medical practitioners, such as the removal of the “madness stone” from the skull of an insane patient.