One of the wonderful things about travel to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, is that when you get there and check into your Kiev hotel, you soon discover that the city has more fascinating attractions than you had ever imagined. This could be because Ukraine is still emerging as a popular tourist destination for Westerners since gaining independence from the Soviet Union, and visitors don’t hear of its secret treasures until they are in a Kiev hotel. A good example is the Kiev National Museum of Medicine.

Usually, tourists book into accommodations in Kiev because they are interested in Ukrainian history and culture, or the city’s vibrant night life. Not until they are actually in their Kiev hotels or economical Kiev apartments do they hear about this fascinating museum. It is well worth seeing.

The Kiev National Museum of Medicine was founded in 1973, and is housed in a building that dates back to 1853. Designed by the architect A. Beretti, the building itself is considered to be one of the architectural marvels of the 19th century. It was formerly the anatomical theater of the University of Kiev. The most up-to-date ideas for museum presentation have been incorporated for the building’s current purpose. In 1983, this museum was awarded the State Prize of Ukraine.

In this museum visitors can learn about the development of medical science in Ukraine from antiquity up to modern times. It is divided into sections to help guide visitors along the remarkable historical trail. The first and second halls have exhibits that outline the development of medicine in Ukraine from the early age of superstition and ignorance, to the medical pioneering days of the 18th and 19th centuries. Here you will see historical relics, ancient doctors’ instruments (some of them quite frightening), and samples of plants used for folk remedies. A special feature is the full scale interior of an ancient Russian bath house. In the 10th century, the bath house was not only a public washing place, but also the neighborhood clinic for the treatment of illnesses and injuries.

The unfolding of medical science in the 18th and 19th centuries is also shown here. The exhibits include old medical manuals, a model of the Kiev-Mogylyanian Academy, and a panorama of medical aid in the time of the Cossack army. You will also see an authentic replica of a late 18th century pharmacy. Many of the commonly prescribed drugs are now illegal.

The museum’s third and fourth halls take visitors to the 20th century and the development of medical science and education in Ukraine. Among other exhibits, people can see the original operating room of the medical faculty at the University of Kiev. The fifth and sixth halls focus on the development of public health and medical science in Ukrainian history: the politically induced famines of the 1930s, and the Soviet persecutions of Ukrainian doctors, scientists and intellectuals. Of particular interest to many visitors is the display concerning the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

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