Open House Festival

The Association of Anaesthetists and Anaesthesia Heritage Centre

historical house, institution/profession, museum

Robert and James Adam, 1776

21 Portland Place, Marylebone, W1B 1PY

Grade II listed building with neoclassical portico. Highly decorated meeting rooms throughout the building with ceiling and wall mouldings, and artwork featuring Venus the Goddess of Love and the Greek Muses.

Getting there


Warren Street, Regent's Park, Oxford Circus, Bond Street, Great Portland Street


Marylebone, Euston, King's Cross


27, 25, 18, 10, 8, 7, 98, 73, 205, 30, 55, 88, 453

Additional travel info

By bike: There is a Santander Cycles docking station at either end of Portland Place. A complete list of docking stations is available on the Transport for London website. There is bike storage at the museum if you are travelling on your own bike, but please note the storage is accessed via stairs.



Accessibility notes

Portable hearing loop. Large format text for the museum displays.


Building history

21 Portland Place is an 18th century, Grade II* listed building, originally built on the 'Grandest Street in London'.

Portland Place was built between 1776 - 1778, designed by two of the leading architects of the time, brothers Robert and James Adam. It was originally designed as a series of private palaces, though the architects quickly acknowledged that this was a little ambitious and the residences became more modest terraces. The construction of this terrace, of which number 21 is the centrepiece, began in approximately 1776 and was completed around 1778.

21 Portland Place contains a wealth of attractive features which are typical of the neoclassical Adam style. Particularly fine examples are the ceilings of the main rooms, the Portex and the Intavent Suite, which incorporate ornate mouldings and paintings into their design.

Notable residents have included Alexander Macmillan (1818-1896) who founded the Macmillan publishing house, and Sir Arthur Pearson who founded the charity St Dunstan's, now known as Blind Veterans UK.

The house was bought by the Association of Anaesthetists in 2002. It is home to the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre which contains the Associations’ archives, the Anaesthesia Museum and a rare book collection and is open to everyone.

The Anaesthesia Heritage Centre

The Anaesthesia Museum is part of the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre and it contains objects relating to the history of anaesthesia. The earliest object in our collections is a resuscitation set from 1774. Our collection ranges from large anaesthetic machines to tiny needles.

Museum visitors can explore the history of anaesthesia, resuscitation and pain relief. The museum also features an 'operating theatre' which allows visitors to listen to aural recordings, including some oral histories, about anaesthetic equipment, procedures and developments.

You can explore the museum’s temporary exhibition Going Viral: Contagion, Pestilence and Pandemics, and discover anaesthetists’ leading role in improvements to patient care and ground-breaking discoveries during the epidemics and pandemics of the last 180 years.

Online presence


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