Inside the Ether Dome - Atlas Obscura
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Boston, Massachusetts

Inside the Ether Dome

Tour the Massachusetts General Hospital and the 19th-century operating theatre in which the very first use of ether was demonstrated!

Between 1821 and 1868, more than 8,000 operations were performed in the Ether Dome. Dr. William T.G. Morton, a Boston dentist, made medical history in this location in 1846, when he administered ether anesthetic to a patient just before Dr. John Collins Warren operated on a tumor in the patient's neck. The patient slept comfortably during the operation and upon awakening announced that he had felt no pain. News of this first demonstration of surgical anesthesia spread rapidly, transforming medical practice throughout the world.

Today the Ether Dome is a teaching amphitheater and historical landmark. Join us to explore the unique architecture and a collection of artifacts, including an oil painting of the first successful public demonstration of the use of ether as an anesthetic in surgery, an Egyptian mummy named Padihershef and early surgical tools. Our tour will also include the Russell Museum of Medical History and Innovation, where attendees can explore interactive media displays, artifacts and photographs relating to Mass General’s history and future. The Russell Museum is dedicated to drawing connections between innovations spanning a period of more than 200 years—from the hospital’s charter in 1811 to present day.


  • Tours will be offered at 12:00 & 2:00pm. Please make sure to double-check your tour reservation time!
  • We'll be meeting in the main lobby of Massachusetts General Hospital, next to the exhibit case to the left of the entrance. Following our tour, attendees are welcome to further explore the Russell Museum at their leisure.

Capacity is limited; RSVP required!


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