Hunterian Museum

February 28, 2009 at 1:28 am | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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The Hunterian Museum near Lincoln’s Field (Temple/Holborn Tube) charts the history of surgery and surgical practices in the UK. The Museum is located within the Royal College of Surgeons and as a result you’ll need to pick up a visitor badge at the entrance before going up the stairs. An audio guide is available but not necessary – especially if you’re running short on time.

John Hunter was one of the UK’s leading surgeons in England (1728-1793), eventually the collection was sold to the government and the Royal College of Surgeons and later became a public museum. Unfortunately much of the collection was destroyed during World War II. The museum was refurbished in 2005 and it certainly looks good.

The museum spans two floors with an open shaft bisecting them, the information panels run along the outer edge and a multitude of specimen jars lining the inner side overlooking (or looking up) the floors.

The specimen jars include animal and human body parts, organs and bones – some are healthy but many are not. If you’re squeamish (for example there are foetuses) then this might be a little disquieting or not a suitable museum. However, there were a few people with children walking around. Interestingly, there were also a number of artists or students sketching the contents of these jars.

The information panels cover John Hunter’s life, diagnosis and development, surgery in the war, surgical practices (such as the cleanliness of the operating theatre), training and the future. Personal stories and video content is also available but again those who are squeamish might have some problems. A fun or challenging activity depending on how you look at it is a sample surgery robot where you can move the arms remotely while trying to move blocks from one space to another. Personally my depth perception must be quite poor as I wasn’t successful – luckily Tay who was with me was a lot better!

We only had an hour and we were pushing to see everything in that time. If you want to look at each specimen and also the audio guide you’ll need more time. If you’re interested in medicine or a slightly different museum come to the Hunterian.

Wellcome Collection

February 28, 2009 at 12:38 am | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Opposite Euston station is the Wellcome Collection it’s a free gallery and library focusing on medicine with the occasional special exhibit.

The main galleries are Medicine Now and Medicine Man with a third having temporary exhibits. Medicine Now predictably looks at some of the contemporary issues in medicine with displays on obesity, malaria and the human genome. This gallery is well presented with listening chairs – when you sit down you’ll hear a blurb about one of the themes, the sound doesn’t travel so it doesn’t bother other patrons. The entire are is well lit and bright with some interesting displays. One of the more fun activities is a biometric picture where you can enter some details like heart rate and height for a geometric picture of ‘you’. Quite cool.

In Medicine Man you’ll walk through a wood panelled gallery featuring artifacts Henry Wellcome collected during the 19th century. There are a variety of items such as drawings, prints, paintings, replacement limbs and many random and interesting bits and pieces such as Japanese sex aids and Napoleon’s toothbrush. In the wood panels are tastefully hidden information boards that provide more information on each item, its use and how it came into the collection.

The Wellcome Collection is an excellent museum, its often open late and is free. I would advise checking its upcoming events for temporary exhibits that interest you and planning your visit accordingly.

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