The Hunterian Museum has closed its doors for refurbishment until autumn 2020, but there are plenty of other places where you can satisfy your pathological curiosity.
Having a public museum in an operational hospital can make some people feel a little uneasy (especially the patients), so be mindful of your surroundings when visiting Barts. Located in the North Wing, the museum tells the story of Barts through surgical equipment and archival material. As a bonus, two enormous paintings by William Hogarth are visible from the museum space. North Wing of St Bartholomew's Hospital. Tube: St Paul’s.
Home to around 5,000 grisly specimens (such as a gout-addled hand from the 1930s), this Victorian museum acts as a teaching resource for medical students but often opens its doors to the public for macabre themed events. Next up is a concert from the Chinese Classic Music Studio. Robin Brook Centre, St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Tube: St Paul’s. Prices vary.
Fill the void left by the Hunterian’s closure with a visit to the British Dental Association’s museum, which houses antique dentures, nineteenth-century floss and a collection of dental-themed art that ranges from surprisingly good to quite grotesque. BDA, 64 Wimpole St. Tube: Bond St. Free entry.
Nineteenth-century pharmacist Sir Henry Wellcome was a bit of a hoarder, and the man had morbid taste. During his life, he amassed a huge collection of medical paraphernalia, Victorian prosthetics and guillotine blades. And you can visit it for free. 183 Euston Rd. Tube: Euston. Free entry.
Ascend a spiral staircase to the attic of St Thomas’s Church and you’ll find the Old Operating Theatre, a tiny museum filled with eighteenth-century medical equipment. If you’re ‘lucky’, you’ll find the staff re-enacting historic surgical methods, performed without anaesthetic. The Theatre is on the site of the church’s Herb Garret, where apothecaries would stash dried opium plants and botanical ‘cures’. It’s closed for refurb right now (everyone is at it!) but you won’t have to wait three years, it should be back in action by July 2017. 9a St Thomas St. Tube: Southwark. £6.20.
Images: British Dental Association, BARTS/Scott Grummett, Wellcome Collection/John Isaacs
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