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