About this museum


The Cape Medical Museum exhibits the history of medicine at the Cape, emphasising both Western and indigenous knowledge.

The Cape Medical Museum in Cape Town gives a historical account of the medical world since the early 19th century. The museum exhibits relics from the early days of pioneering modern medicine, including a fully kitted out Victorian dentist's surgery, though to modern day medical endeavours. The museum is housed in the New Somerset hospital in Green Point which is over 100 years old.


What’s on show

Traditional Medicine

The traditional section of the Cape Medical Museum exhibits traditional medicines used by the Xhosa tribes and their Sangomas, as well as plants used by early hunter-gatherers of the Cape. To this day, many of the roots, plants and animal parts on display are still being used by the Sangomas in Traditional Medicine.

Victorian Dentist's Surgery

This museum has an early 20th century Dentist’s office complete with a dental chair with a foot-driven dental drill and other even more freighting dental instruments.

Disease Room

Diseases have played a role in shaping the history of the world. It has defeated armies, paralyzed trade, thereby influencing economies and changing the social conditions of nations. The disease and history exhibition commemorates the most prominent outbreaks of diseases throughout history which includes scurvy, leprosy, Spanish Influenza and the most recent HIV/AIDS.

Modern South African Medicine

The Medical Museum has an exhibit dedicated to Christiaan Barnard who conducted the world’s first heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital, down the road form the museum. There are also exhibits relating to the AIDS epidemic in Africa and South Africa.

Operating Theatre

The museum has a historically accurate operation theatre, with chloroform and stainless steel hack saws which were used during amputations.


The dispensary room is filled with hundreds of tiny potion-filled bottles which date back to the beginning of the 20th century


Secondary Programme

Please check back closer to the event date for an updated programme.

5:15 - 6:00 pm
Access to healthcare, MSF stands with refugees!

South Africa remains the main country of destination for asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants in Southern Africa. People come from Somalia, DRC, Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. Foreigners and asylum seekers face major challenges in South Africa, they literally camp outside the Department of Home Affairs to apply and wait for visas. We at MSF believe that seeking safety is not a crime, saving lives is not a crime! That is why we run a project in Tshwane (Gauteng) to provide basic healthcare.

6:00- 7:00 pm
The future of Indigenous Medicinal Herbs

This presentation by Anneline Mohammedt will present brief history on the Montagu Museum Heritage Herb Project alongside a closer look at the indigenous herbs that were used as medicine by the Khoisan peoples that first inhabited the area now known as the Cape.


7:15 - 8:00 pm
MSF achieves
90-90-90 in our struggle against HIV

Is HIV still a medical crisis in South Africa? We at Doctors without Borders / MSF think so. In our project ‘Bending the Curves’ in Eshowe (KZN) MSF is not only treating patients, we are also running an elaborate programme of community outreach and health education. Our goal: to achieve the UNAIDS target of 90-90-90. A recent study has shown that the Eshowe project has achieved this goal one year ahead of schedule.