The primary purpose of our collection work is to gather historical and contemporary objects, publications, documents, photographs and other materials from individuals, institutions and areas connected with the history of medicine and health in Estonia. In addition, we compile suitable instructional materials for museum exhibitions and for pedagogical purposes.

The museum does not collect articles or objects that are already well represented in our collection, or in the collections of other museums, that are in bad shape or that are not in accordance with the criteria of our collection policy.

Basic principles of our collection policy:
1. The Museum accepts objects that are in accordance with the basic principles and directions of our collection policy and which have significance in terms of contributing to the comprehensiveness of the Estonian Healthcare Museum’s collection.
2. The Museum accepts objects that are in optimally good condition.
3. The Museum accepts rare objects into its basic collection.
4. The Museum accepts objects that are necessary as instructional materials.
5. The Museum neither accepts nor considers objects that are not in accordance with its collection policy.
6. The Museum will not consider objects that require special circumstances and budgetary provisions for their preservation, exhibition or records management.
7. The Museum will not accept objects for which insufficient information is available, or whose provenance is unknown.
8. All decisions pertaining to additions to the Museum’s collection must be assessed and justified, and be in accordance with our basic collection policy principles and with our value appraisal criteria.

The Artefact Collection:

Currently, we have 3,790 museum pieces in our collection – instruments and objects from the fields of pharmacology, surgery, ophthalmology, laboratory research, neurology, gynaecology, therapy, hygiene, urology, stomatology, first aid, and otolaryngology. Our collection provides an extensive overview of the products manufactured by the Tallinn Farmaatsiatehas (the Tallinn Pharmaceutical Factory) and its predecessor EPHAG Ltd. Medicine vials, tubes, containers and tablets reveal the broad range of their product line.
There is also a unique collection of gall-, bladder- and kidney stones. A small collection of medallion-pins that features a Florence Nightingale medal; and there is also a small art collection that contains works (paintings, graphics and sculptures) portraying medics. A large segment of which is comprised of paintings by the Tartu psychiatrist and Estonian Art Society member, Dr. Aksel Eist. One of the oldest exhibits is an amniotic sac from 1874.

Specific principles for supplementation:

• The continued supplementation of existing areas.
• Medical and personal articles that belonged to famous Estonian medics.
• The continued expansion of the collection focussing on blindness.
• Rare foreign medical products.
• No materials that duplicate items in other museums, or common mass-produced items.

Supplementation needs:

• Textiles – historical uniforms for medical workers.
• Old instructional materials for anatomy.
• Prototypes for modern medical technology and devices developed in Estonia.
• The historical development of Estonian medical technology and discoveries.
• Equipment for the disabled.
• Surgical tools or related items.

 The Photography Collection:

Currently, the collection holds 6,797 photographs and negatives dating from the end of the 19th Century to the present, from the areas of pharmacology, surgery, ophthalmology, laboratory research, neurology, gynaecology, therapy, urology, stomatology, first aid and otolaryngology. Some of the oldest original photographs are of nurses serving in Harbin, in the Far East, during the Russo-Japanese War. Of particular interest is an album from the 1897 - XII International Congress of Physicians in Moscow; in which, among others, 150 doctors who had studied at the University of Tartu took part.

Specific principles for supplementation:

• Continue the systematic digital recording of organisations, individuals or institutions.
• Collect original photographs, whether in the form of negatives, positives or digital images.
• Exceptions may be made for accepting excellent-quality copies of photos (negatives, positive or digital images) in cases of unique imaging.
• Photocopies will not accepted into the basic collection.

Supplementation needs:

• Photographs of notable individuals, organisations, events and daily scenes from the history of medicine in Estonia.

The Document Collection:

Currently, there are 7,536 museum pieces in the collection. Old and new documents concerning pharmacies, hospitals, polyclinics, doctors’, nurses’ studies at the Tartu University Faculty of Medicine, its professors-faculty, the Temperance League, the Red Cross, health management, events and many other things. Of considerable value is a pharmaceutical prescription collection from the days of the First Estonian Republic; the Hospital for Infectious Diseases journal from 1901, as well as the journals of the Nordic-Baltic Physicians’ Association from 1912, which bear witness to the medical history of those days.

Specific principles for supplementation:

• Collections of originals.

Supplementation needs:

• Documentation concerning notable individuals, organisations, events and daily scenes from the history of medicine in Estonia.
• Documents pertaining to institutions.
• Memoirs.

The Publications Collection:

Presently there are 3,338 museum pieces in the collection. The oldest publications are German-language doctoral dissertations in medicine from Dorpat (Tartu) from the years 1870 - 1880. IT is very likely that the Museum has all of the Healthcare Museum publications from the Tartu days. The collection includes books, journals, posters and postcards with medical themes.

Specific supplementation principles:

• Collections of rare Estonian books on medical topics (printed in Estonia).
• Preference is given to the earlier period of Estonian medicine and to printed works from the First Republic.
• In addition, rare medical works that were published abroad are collected.

Supplementation needs:

• New approaches and trends in health and health-behaviour topics.

The Secondary Collection:
At present, there are 3,842 museum items in the secondary collection. Supplementary materials that are connected with Estonian medicine or health are preserved here.

Specific supplementation principles:

• Objects, documents, publications and other materials that do not meet the criteria for acceptance into the main collection, but which nonetheless merit preservation for scientific, educational or other purposes are accepted.