Medical Care During President Lincoln's Final Hours Commemorated in New Exhibit

SILVER SPRING, Md. - "His Wound Is Mortal: The Final Hours of President Abraham Lincoln," a temporary exhibition at the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM) featuring artifacts related to the Lincoln assassination, including the bullet that killed the president, opened at the medical museum in March.

The updated Lincoln exhibit, along with several planned special events, is part of NMHM's observance of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's death. NMHM, a Department of Defense museum founded during the Civil War as the Army Medical Museum, is open to the public daily and is located on the Fort Detrick-Forest Glen Annex in Silver Spring, Maryland.

On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln was shot while watching a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. Surgeons from the Army Medical Museum treated the president until he died. Those same surgeons later performed Lincoln's autopsy, during which they recovered the bullet. The bullet, along with several small shards from Lincoln's skull and locks of Lincoln's hair, are featured in the exhibition.

"Rarely can a museum claim to be as much a part of an event as it is the holder of its historical significance," said Adrianne Noe, Ph.D., NMHM director. "In the case of the response to the assassination of President Lincoln, the National Museum of Health and Medicine tells our own history when we describe the medical response to that national tragedy."

The Lincoln commemoration will continue in April, with events on and after the anniversary dates. On April 14, NMHM will host an after-hours open house, a family program, and a special lecture (the lecture program subject to change). On April 15, a commemoration is planned at the moment that Lincoln died 150 years earlier, and at noon, a special gallery talk will discuss Lincoln's autopsy. On April 28 at 6 p.m., NMHM staff will present the Medical Museum Science Café "Remembering Lincoln at the Medical Museum." Collections managers and education staff members will discuss the history of the Lincoln artifacts in the NMHM collections. Programs are free and open to the public and reservations are not required. Learn more about NMHM events online at

Concurrent with the Lincoln exhibit, NMHM opened a special exhibit featuring the "Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion," an innovative effort by the Army Medical Museum to collect, collate and share the lessons of battlefield medicine during the course of the Civil War. The exhibit includes artifacts, specimens and images documented in the work, including a review of gunshot injuries, charts about the spread of disease and infection, and artifacts that chronicle the novel use of anaesthesia during the course of the war.

NMHM is open daily, including weekends and holidays (closed only on Dec. 25), from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. A free visitor parking lot is located on Linden Lane. Directions are available on the NMHM website at Visits to NMHM exhibits are self-guided, and guided tours are available for groups of 10 or more (four weeks' notice required.) Information about tour programs can be found on the NMHM website at

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Caption: Dr. Edward Curtis dislodged this lead bullet from President Abraham Lincoln's brain during autopsy. It was fired by John Wilkes Booth with a .44 caliber Deringer pistol. M-981.00322

(Disclosure: This image has been cropped, and portions of this image have been masked to emphasize the subject.) (National Museum of Health and Medicine photo illustration by Matthew Breitbart)