TNOA Journal of Ophthalmic Science and Research

: 2019  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 248--249

Elliot's Museum – A Thing of beauty

M Ananda Babu 
 Director and Superintendent, RIO GOH, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. M Ananda Babu
Director & Superintendent, RIO GOH, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Babu M A. Elliot's Museum – A Thing of beauty.TNOA J Ophthalmic Sci Res 2019;57:248-249

How to cite this URL:
Babu M A. Elliot's Museum – A Thing of beauty. TNOA J Ophthalmic Sci Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Aug 7 ];57:248-249
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Full Text

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever” - John keats

The Elliot's Museum stands as a testimony to this quote as it helps medical fraternity to understand the evolution of ophthalmology as a medical specialty from the glorious past through the scintillating present and the promising future.

 Conception and Inception

Lt. Colonel R. H. Elliot FRCS, MS was the superintendent of the government ophthalmic hospital from 1904 to 1913. His plans for expansion of the hospital were materialized during the tenure of Lt. Colonel Kirkpatrick who succeeded Elliot. A school of ophthalmology named Elliot's School of Ophthalmology was inaugurated on February 16, 1919. Lt. Colonel R. E. Wright succeeded Lt. Colonel Kirkpatrick [Figure 1]. The museum in the Elliot's School, now called the Elliot's Museum, owes its conception and inception to the tireless work of Dr. R. E. Wright and Dr. Kirkpatrick.{Figure 1}

 Distinctive Antiquity

1. Clinical Records of patients: The Hippocratic Oath, handwritten in ancient calligraphic font, is sublime. The fundus diagrams mounted on the walls were hand-drawn paintings with great accuracy and detail.

2. Eye models: The gallery of eyeballs displays the intricate details to a great precision. Made of porcelain, even the labels engraved in Latin have not faded till date [Figure 2].{Figure 2}

3. Instruments: The instruments, dating back to the golden age of the 1900s, have been arranged in racks [Figure 3].{Figure 3}

4. Clinical Photographs: The rotating tables comprise photos of eyeballs and clinical photographs of patients from the past. Handdrawn portraits of patients with characteristic findings related to eye highlight the documentation methods of the past [Figure 4].{Figure 4}

5. Histopathology Specimens: Wright, being an eminent pathologist, trotted out his passion by depicting histopathology specimens and various clinical findings pertaining to it.

6. Research journals & Textbooks: Records of old clinical case sheets and photographs along with the textbooks of these days have been preserved well in the bookshelves.

Refurbishments: As the museum marched alongside the hospital for almost two centuries, it is only understandable that it had to undergo refurbishments to keep in pace with the changing times.

1969-150 th anniversary celebrations: Dr. J.E. Abraham, former director (1966-1975) made a significant contribution in the form of documentation of clinical case reports.

1979: During the tenure of Prof E.T. Selvam (1977-1982) there was a major renovation of the museum. It was supervised by Dr. J. Chidambaram a nd Dr. V. Velayutham.

1994-175 th anniversary: As part of the hospital celebrations, it underwent further revamping under the directorship of Prof V.M. Loganathan.

2019: Bicentenary year

-Due to the planned and concerted efforts since 2016 by the present Director Prof Dr. M. Ananda Babu, extensive renovation and refurbishment works have been carried out. The Tamil Nadu Ophthalmic association. All India Ophthalmic association and philantropic ophthalmologists have contributed generously towards the renovation work. The heritage structure has underwent a major facelift, it is now well protected by 4 layered mesh & aluminium partition windows to prevent any damage to the exhibits. The exhibits are well protected in glass encasing and wooden racks and have been displayed in an intricate order.

Two halls in the first floor museum have been renamed as TNOA (TamilNadu Ophthalmic Association)gallery and AIOS(All India Ophthalmic society) gallery, as part of an acknowledgement towards the contribution made by our ophthalmic associations. All refurbished exhibits are named and catalogued by scientific methods including the Google image search facility. The entire blueprint of the museum, both hard and soft copy of the catalogue has been kept at RIOGOH library for future reference.

As part of the Bicentenary celebrations held on 19th October 2019, the museum was reopened, in the presence of former directors and eminent ophthalmologists from all over India followed by a heritage walk within the Institute's premises.[Figure 5].{Figure 5}


A Heritage building with Ophthalmic treasure-Elliot's museum.

It is an ophthalmic monument for time immemorial, not only to our nation but also to the International ophthalmic community.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.