Wooden Examination-Operating Chair


This wooden chair with a circular adjustable seat is known as an operating or examination chair.  It was used to perform simple forms of surgery on the head, neck and shoulder area. The chair was likely used in the physician or surgeon's office and his "office" was many times just a room set aside in his home in the 19th and 20th century.  Medical "offices" with the contemporary nurse and receptionist and waiting room for patients is a relatively new innovation.

Assigning a date to the chair is difficult since its basic design has changed little in the past two hundred years. It is likely this exam chair is from the Victorian era (1837-1901).  It was a time when everything was decorated from medical equipment to steam locomotives.  This oak chair while functional with foot and head rests is decorated in the ornate 17th Century Jacobean style that was revived in the mid-19th Century.

Location in Museum

Medicine in the New South Exhibit


circa 1890


Dr. Frank Bryant, Tri-State Hospital and Willis-Knighton physician
  • Wooden Examination-Operating Chair medium shot
  • Wooden Examination-Operating Chair wide shot
  • Wooden Examination-Operating Chair back