Did You Know? The Wallace D. Wilson Museum — A Museum With Heart

Did you know that THI houses its very own museum? Spanning nearly 4,000 square feet and located just inside the first-floor windows that wrap around the Denton A. Cooley building, the Wallace D. Wilson Museum at the Texas Heart Institute features a collection of art, medical devices, and other objects and information that tell the story of THI’s history and long legacy of firsts in cardiovascular discovery and care. The museum was named for the philanthropist Wallace D. Wilson (1893-1980), a successful Houston businessman who owned an oil well supply company. A trust established by Wilson, called the Wilson Hospital Foundation, donated $8.5 million to THI as part of a fundraising campaign for the Denton A. Cooley Building. The museum was created to portray the many innovative accomplishments of Dr. Cooley and the professional staff at the Institute and to spotlight various individuals, including patients, professionals, and others, who have made distinct contributions to the success of the Institute.


In the museum, visitors can learn more about the advances in technology that have helped to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cardiovascular disease over the years. Various devices and techniques developed at THI also are on display. At one time, multimedia exhibits provided an inside look at the anatomy of the heart and the sounds of heartbeats (normal and abnormal). Overviews are presented of key supporting services over the Institute’s first 40 years: cardiology, cardiology research, pathology, anesthesiology, perfusion, transplantation, surgery, surgery research, and education. Many of Dr. Cooley’s personal mementos and awards are on display. The Houston Museum of Natural Science played an invaluable role in the design and implementation of the museum, which is evident in the quality of the exhibits. 

Also featured in the museum is the Celebration of Hearts art exhibit, curated by Houston actress, journalist, and author Warner Roberts. The collection showcases a compilation of nearly 150 pieces donated—and, in some cases, created—by distinguished individuals, including athletes, US Presidents and First Ladies, artists, astronauts, actors, and musicians. The artwork represents personal renderings and interpretations of the heart, with pieces ranging from delicate crystal to granite sculptures and paintings. Warner Roberts inspired the donation of so many items that a number of the pieces had to be displayed elsewhere throughout the building. As part of Warner Roberts’ vision, the collection has provided a creative and aesthetically beautiful space for patients and visitors to the Texas Medical Center and will last for many more years to come.


The Wallace D. Wilson Museum is open to visitors Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

– by Nicole Stancel, Sr. Scientific Medical Editor/Writer, Scientific Publications


Images: Gallery views from within the Wallace D. Wilson Museum.