When the Neurology Unit of Santa Marta Former Teaching Hospital was transferred to the new Santa Maria Hospital in 1955, it was decided to keep some objects of the collection of the old unit, particularly objects left by Professor Egas Moniz.
The “Egas Moniz Study Centre”, which had been set up at the Júlio de Matos Hospital, was also transferred into the new Hospital. This centre had the purpose of continuing the innovative work of Professor Egas Moniz through his dream of creating a “Portuguese School of Angiology”, and also of carrying on his studies on leucotomy, so fraught with uncertainty at the time, and which would subsequently be installed in the neurology tower on level 6.
This was when the idea of displaying a few of those objects came up, with a view to informing and perpetuating the memory of the work of Egas Moniz, in its medical strand, with particular emphasis on the discovery and applications of angiography, and also on the Nobel Prize he was awarded in 1949.
Accordingly, with the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, an exhibition area called “Egas Moniz Museum” was set in a space on Level 6, encompassing the CEEM area.
Here, one is able to see some of the most important works written by the Professor, starting with a copy of his first publication: his inaugural dissertation: “Alterações Anátomo-Patológicas da Difteria” (Anatomopathological Changes of Diphtheria), 1900. This is followed by his seminal book on the discovery and first applications of angiography: “Diagnostic des Tumeurs Cérébrales et Épreuve de L’encephalographie Arterielle” (Ed. Masson-Paris 1931), enhanced with a preface written by Joseph Babinski. Another major book is “L’Angiographie Cérébrale” (Ed. Masson – Paris 1934).
Accompanying the evolution of the work of Egas Moniz, the exhibition includes a copy of the book on principles of leucotomy: “Tentatives Opératoires dans le Traitement de Certaines Psychoses” (Ed. Masson-1936).
Books of an auto-biographical nature, such as “Confidências de um Investigador Científico” (Confidences of a Scientific Researcher) from 1948, and “A Nossa Casa” (Our Home), from 1950, must also be stressed.
Whenever we come across first editions or signed copies, we replace existing ones with the, as they are undoubtedly more valuable.
With regard to the bibliography, attention must also be paid to the contents of an elegant cabinet, as it offers a better understanding of the capacities of our Professor. Accordingly, we have historical and political topics: “Um ano de Política” (One year of Politics), from 1920, in which he tells of his last 12 months as an active politician, which spanned from March 1918 with Sidónio Pais, to March 1919, when he left the peace conference in Versailles.
Other books attest the author’s versatility, such as “Ao lado da Medicina” (On the side of Medicine), a collection of speeches and conferences, and “A Neurologia na Guerra” (Neurology during War), from 1917, which refers to traumatic pathologies of the nervous system resulting from war.
A small but interesting book deserves special mention: “O Abade Faria na História do Hipnotismo” (Abade Faria in the History of Hypnotism), from 1924, a topic that attracted a lot of neuropsychiatric interest in the 19th century.
Perhaps what may surprise the educated visitor the most is a vast work where the author writes about the life and work of Júlio Dinis (1924), whom he particularly admired.
In the main glass cabinet there are some manuscripts written on Santa Marta Hospital official headed paper, and also from his surgery. One can find prescriptions and some notes on a few of his patients. One of them was a recent donation.
We have recovered and exhibited a ledger of students of the Subject of Neurology in the academic year 1927/28, with corresponding grades. The classes’ programme bearing the name of the junior lecturer in charge of teaching them is also displayed.
Other exhibits include an everyday use wooden box (containing a tram ticket, screw, key, thread roll) the Professor used to test discriminative sensitivity. There are small handwritten notepads listing the topics of the classes: myelitis, encephalitis, etc. On the side, there are boxes with glass diapositive collections used at the time.
On the upper side of the cabinet there is a set of picture frames, which used to keep several pages of a letter written from Paris to Almeida Lima, but which, due to the effect of light, we had to remove and store properly to avoid further damage. Instead, we used the space to display a set of pictures depicting several periods of Egas Moniz’s life, some of which practically unknown, obtained from distinct sources, with particular emphasis on those donated by the Photographic Archive of the Lisbon City Hall, depicting Egas Moniz in his office in Parliament in 1908, photographed by Joshua Benoliel.
On a vertical cabinet created when the museum was remodelled, we have displayed a collection of diplomas from the most prestigious political and scientific institutions of that time, which were awarded to our honoured personality. The high number did not make it possible to display them all, for which reason we chose the most important.
However, the most significant museological materials include other objects or collections:
The pastel painting by José Malhoa (1932) depicting Egas Moniz wearing the academic gown of the University of Coimbra is a work of great artistic value and frequently lent to several exhibitions.
Another important aspect is, no doubt, the reconstitution of Egas Moniz’s modest office at Santa Marta Hospital, showing the original pieces, allowing us to immerse in the atmosphere of his room, and also remember the words of Percival Bailey written on a memorial stone on occasion of the Master’s retirement, which hangs in the hall of the museum: “It is a fact that major things have been done with insufficient resources and in unfavourable conditions. But look at the work of Cajal in Spain and of Moniz in Portugal. Genius stands above these circumstances”.
In the following room, there is a display of the several pathologies of the central nervous system, where angiography was, and still is, useful. The collection includes about 200 radiographic plates that have been subject to maintenance. The old glass has been removed and replaced by modern anti-reflex glass, enhancing viewing.
The exhibition is completed by some instruments used in angiography and leucotomy, besides pictures of people important in his life and work, starting with his wife, and including surgeon Dr. António Martins, Professor António Flores and Professor Almeida Lima.
Another exhibit that reserves mentioning is the set of back-lit panels describing the discovery of angiography. Besides their historical value, they have huge didactical value, and have also been lent for temporary exhibitions.
The faithful copy of the Nobel Prize diploma and medal are exhibited in another glass cabinet, the originals being at the House Museum Egas Moniz in Avanca.
The most recent acquisitions which undoubtedly add value to the Museum include a collection of photo albums, in excess of 30, reproducing clinical cases with the most diverse neurological pathologies, in addition to angiographies, from Santa Marta Teaching Hospital. The pieces were dispersed and are now brought together and duly exhibited.
In another glass cabinet, one can find ledgers with surgical recordings, starting in the 1930s, which were equally dispersed and only recently recuperated and exhibited.
The Museum has received an increasing number of visitors from national educational establishments, and foreign researchers.
Recently, we were pleased to see that the Museum was included in the set of exhibition areas that form part of the historical guide of the University of Lisbon on occasion of the 100th anniversary of its foundation (1911-2011).
However, we are also sorry about a few things, the worse being, no doubt, the fate given to the table where the first angiographies were performed.
This precious object is placed in the waiting room of the Radiology Unit of Santa Marta Hospital, subject to a demeaning and sad fate, acting as a support table displaying magazines to entertain those waiting in the room.
Despite all the contacts made, we have been unsuccessful in our attempts to claim it and preserve it with the dignity it deserves. It would surely fit well in the museum where angiographies are on display, the first of which were taken on that very same table.
Prof. Doutor Victor Oliveira
Responsible for the historic and document collection, and for the Egas Moniz Museum