Hunterian Museum

Nuggets – bite size chunks of London


The Hunterian Museum is closed to the public until Autumn 2020 while the Royal College of Surgeons building is redeveloped

Hunterian Museum

 
Known as the Father of Sci­en­tif­ic Surgery, John Hunter (1728–93) was a bril­liant but tem­pera­men­tal anatomist and sur­geon who sought to empha­size the rela­tion­ship between struc­ture and func­tion in the human body (and in the bod­ies of all kinds of liv­ing crea­tures), thus pro­vid­ing an ana­lyt­i­cal basis for sur­gi­cal prac­tice. He died after suf­fer­ing a fit dur­ing an argu­ment at St George’s hos­pi­tal, Hyde Park Cor­ner (since relo­cat­ed to Toot­ing), over the accep­tance of stu­dents for train­ing.

Dur­ing his life­time Hunter assem­bled a vast col­lec­tion of instruc­tive spec­i­mens and prepa­ra­tions at his house in Leices­ter Square, which he arranged into a teach­ing muse­um. The house’s con­tents were pur­chased by the gov­ern­ment in 1799 and giv­en to the Com­pa­ny of Sur­geons, now the Roy­al Col­lege of Sur­geons, which has its head­quar­ters in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

By the end of the 19th cen­tu­ry the Hunter­ian Muse­um con­tained near­ly 65,000 spec­i­mens cov­er­ing anato­my and pathol­o­gy, zool­o­gy, palaeon­tol­ogy, archae­ol­o­gy and anthro­pol­o­gy.

The col­lege was bombed in 1941 but a large part of the col­lec­tion sur­vived and the high­lights are today exhib­it­ed in a series of styl­ish gal­leries, revamped in 2004. They include human and ani­mal anato­my and pathol­o­gy spec­i­mens, wax teach­ing mod­els, sur­gi­cal and den­tal instru­ments, paint­ings, draw­ings and sculp­ture.
 
Two floors of display cases at the Hunterian Museum