London Blog

The Hunterian Museum

A shout-out for one of London’s lesser known, but even more fascinating for it, science museums today: the Hunterian Museum, which runs its last week of summer holiday activities next week before beginning the regular autumn calendar of events.

A short history: in 1799 the government purchased the collection of John Hunter, a prestigious Scottish surgeon regarded as one of the best surgeons in history, and donated it to the Royal College of Surgeons. This collection formed the bulk of the Hunterian Collection, which grew over time into the Museum which today stands in the Nuffield College of Surgical Sciences building of the Royal College of Surgeons, on the south side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

Photo by O.F.E on Flickr

Taking photos is strictly forbidden inside the museum, which is possibly a good thing as I couldn’t have captured everything there was to see in a whole day, let alone a flying visit. There are skeletons or all species and sizes, jars from floor to ceiling of preserved creatures, including some quite disturbing embryos and the centrepiece, the skeleton of the seven and a half foot tall 18th century human curiosity the Irish Giant.

Inside this fascinating but slightly bizarre collection was a small collection of children huddled over a table working on a puzzle translating recipes written in old English: holiday programmes finish next week, so act quickly if your children would like to try activities including Handle the instruments of surgeons through the ages and Be a zoologist for a day.

Meanwhile the autumn programme of events for adults has just been released: lunchtime and evening lectures on a wide range of medical and surgical topics make a good excuse to not miss this hidden gem.

The Hunterian Museum is based at The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PE and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Admission is free.

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