Originally established in 1980 as the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) Archive and Museum Centre by the RAH Heritage and History Committee, the Heritage Office was located in the RAH on North Terrace.
The Royal Adelaide Hospital dates back to 1840 when on 15 July ‘Lieutenant-Colonel George Gawler, Governor of South Australia, laid the foundation-stone of the first building to be called the Adelaide Hospital. This has been regarded as the hospital’s Foundation Day, although the first patients were not admitted until January, or possibly February, 1841. Since then, the hospital has had a continuous record of service to the people of Adelaide and South Australia’. (James Escourt Hughes, Emeritus Surgeon (retired), RAH from Servire ac Docere: Royal Adelaide Hospital 1840-1990).
When the new RAH was opened on Port Road in 2017, the heritage collection was moved to new premises at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre, a campus of the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
The Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre was built as the Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital in 1932 and designed to care for and accommodate patients with infectious diseases such as polio, scarlet fever, measles and diphtheria. The Heritage Office is now housed on the ground floor of the former nurses’ home and the collection is cared for by the Curatorial Team, supported by dedicated volunteers who manage its physical storage and documentation. The archives and collection includes the biographies and histories of South Australians who have made important contributions in the advancement of health. This includes former staff of the Royal Adelaide Hospital and other institutions who worked in the fields of nursing, medicine, theatre, dentistry and administration.
The team are putting together a web-based Health Museum, the first stage towards developing a physical museum. It is designed to showcase health objects and collections held within South Australia, initially focusing on the institutions within Central Adelaide Local Health Network: Royal Adelaide Hospital, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Calvary Hospital, SA Dental, SA Pathology and Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre. In the long term it will cover all aspects of SA health, recognising the many contributions made by professionals, not just those in hospitals but in the community as whole (including industry).