At the end of the nineteenth century, the surgeon had become master of the medical universe. The drama of surgery is vividly documented in the Burns Operative Scenes Collection. As natural light was initially the only sources of light, the photography of surgery changed with time. Popular operative scenes include those in a surgical amphitheater, in which an audience of students and observers are invited to watch from a gallery, as well as traditional medical and surgical grand rounds in which interesting patients were presented and questioned. Another interesting aspect of surgical history highlighted by the collection is how the viewing audience changed over time as surgery transformed from a public event to a strictly regulated event. Hundreds of photographs, spanning over a century, document the changing role of the surgeon, nurse, and patient throughout history.