Here’s our guide to the most morbid museum in London, as it opens its doors for free this month.
What’s the deal?
Carla Valentine, technical curator at Barts Pathology Museum, is one of the pioneers of the ‘death positivity’ movement, which holds the idea that hiding death and dying behind closed doors does more harm than good. And, true to her ethos, she and her colleagues are inviting Londoners to explore this Victorian museum where the shelves are lined with human specimens in glass jars.
Sounds terrifying. How do I get in?
The museum’s archive is normally reserved for the nervous hands of medical students, who practise their slicing and dicing on cadavers. But London’s morbid secret is going to be accessible to the public for two rare open days this month.
So what does this museum actually have on show?
One vintage organ that calls Barts Pathology Museum home is a ‘tight lacer’s liver’ from 1907, deformed by the persistent tightening of corset strings. You can also see the photographs of Mia-Jane Harris, which capture the delicate minutiae of human eyes and other wet specimens suspended in preservative.
Isn’t this all a bit too creepy?
Barts isn’t about indulging in gallows humour. Valentine believes that seeing these remains can help ‘open up a dialogue about death, and what happens after we die’. So get ready for some cheery dinner-table chat. St Bartholomew’s Hospital. St Paul’s. Aug 8 and Aug 22, 1pm-4pm, reserve your place here. Free.
Feeling adventurous? Try these weird but wonderful London museums.
Or skip the crowds with these alternative places to visit in the city.