"Hunterian Museum at Royal College of Surgeons" Hunterian Museum Tip by Durfun

Hunterian Museum, London: 4 reviews and 8 photos

  The Museum's front facade
by Durfun
  • The Museum's front facade - London
      The Museum's front facade
    by Durfun
  • Looking east (past RCS) along Lincoln's Inn Fields - London
      Looking east (past RCS) along Lincoln's Inn Fields
    by Durfun
  • The grand building - London
      The grand building
    by Durfun

This is the ultimate place for anyone even remotely interested in biology & the internal structure of animals including humans! There are so many specimens of a very wide variety of animals, mammals, human embryos in various stages of development, etc.

The museum is arranged over several floors, with stacks & stacks of displays in bottles & encased in glass cabinets.

You can see skeletons and bones, as well as tissues and organs like the heart, stomach, lungs, internal nerve structures and nodes, etc.

Among the collection is a full skeleton of an Irish 'giant' from years ago who was 7' 7" tall! Also there is the grotesquely over-enlarged skull of a person afflicted by a specific illness that leads to this symptom.

There is a fascinating collection of early surgical tools & appliances, helping one to understand how operating methods evolved, including how theatres were sanitised.

One can also see real videos of surgical procedures taking place, eg on the brain, etc. There are many models of grafts, examples of how plastic surgery evolved, as well as microsurgery, eg on the inner ear, etc.

Attached to the buildiing is the Wellcome Trust's wings dedicated to medical students & practitioners, giving them access to an extensive range of specimens, for study and experimentation, etc.

Entry is free, donations are welcome, and there is a charge for an audio guide should you want one. Free guided tours of the Hunterian Museum are available every Wednesday at 1pm.

* Inside, photography is prohibited.

"John Hunter came to London in 1748 at the age of 20 and worked as an assistant in the anatomy school of his elder brother William (1718-83), who was already an established physician and obstetrician. Under William's direction, John learnt human anatomy and showed great aptitude in the dissection and preparation of specimens.

Hunter spent time collecting specimens of lizards and other animals whilst in France & Portugal. On his return to England in 1763 he began to build up his private practice.

In 1768 he was elected Surgeon to St George's Hospital, and in 1783 he moved to a large house in Leicester Square, which enabled him to take resident pupils and to arrange his collection into a teaching museum.

Hunter devoted all his resources to his museum. It included nearly 14,000 preparations of more than 500 different species of plants and animals. As his reputation grew, he was supplied with rare specimens such as kangaroos brought back by Sir Joseph Banks from James Cook?s voyage of 1768-71.

While most of his contemporaries taught only human anatomy, Hunter's lectures stressed the relationship between structure and function in all kinds of living creatures. Hunter believed that surgeons should understand how the body adapted to and compensated for damage due to injury, disease or environmental changes.

By the 1780s Hunter enjoyed widespread recognition as the leading teacher of surgery of his time.

Hunter is today remembered as a founder of `scientific surgery'. He was unique in seeking to provide an experimental basis to surgical practice, and his museum is a lasting record of his pioneering work."

(Source: http://www.rcseng.ac.uk/museums)

Address: 35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PE
Directions: Located on the southern end of Lincoln's Inn Fields, it can be accessed via Sardinia Street which is off Kingsway, just south of Holborn tube station.
othercontact: Fax: 020 7869 6564
Phone: 020 7869 6560
Website: http://www.rcseng.ac.uk/museums

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated Mar 28, 2011
  • Send to a Friend
  • Add to your Trip Planner
  • Report Abuse

Comments (1)

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Jun 30, 2013 at 3:54 AM

    This museum kind of freaked me out a bit, especially the embryos in various stages of development. I found out that there is a Holborn destination on VT, so I added my tip there.

Durfun Lives Here!


“Cherish memories of fab places, fab people, and the occasional 'angel' you run into...”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 4 9 4
Forum Rank:
0 0 5 4 5

Have you been to London?

  Share Your Travels