Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right United Kingdom icon-chevron-right England icon-chevron-right London icon-chevron-right Hunterian Museum

Hunterian Museum

Museums, Science and technology Holborn Free
4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(14user reviews)
Syphilitic skull from Hunterian Collection.jpg

The Hunterian Museum houses one of the oldest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens in the UK and is based on the items assembled by John Hunter, surgeon and anatomist (1728-1793). The collection comprises more than 3,500 anatomical and pathological preparations, fossils, paintings and drawings and also includes specimens donated by Edward Jenner and Sir Joseph Banks. Exhibits at the Hunterian Museum include the skeleton of the 7ft 7in tall ‘Irish giant’ Charles Byrne, a collection of surgical instruments dating from the seventeenth century, carbolic sprays used by Lister, the pioneer of antiseptic surgery, the tooth of a megatherium (an extinct giant sloth) donated by Charles Darwin – and Winston Churchill’s dentures.

Read about our favourite exhibits in the Hunterian Museum


Venue name: Hunterian Museum
Address: Royal College of Surgeons
35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields
Opening hours: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm (closed Mon and Sun)
Transport: Tube: Holborn
Do you own this business?
Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

With an upcoming refurbishment and temporary closure due (from May 20th 2017), the Hunterian Museum stands at the far side of Lincoln Inn Fields (within the Royal College of Surgeons - it can be easy to miss as there is very little external signage to denote its presence).

Set over two floors and dedicated to the work of surgeon John Hunter, this is a treasure trove of the macabre and the development of surgical procedures. Not for the squeamish (e.g. there are lots of specimen jars containing the likes of tape worms, embryos and even a tumour weighing 4KGs), much of the history is brought to life by the tour guides (I was amazed by the story of dentists in the 1800s who would buy and remove healthy teeth from the poor (paying just enough so they could get a meal, and then insert them into the mouths of London's rich later that same day!). Weird AND wonderful.


This is a really fascinating exhibition so do get in before they close for renovations soon. It’s filled with anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens and there is currently an exhibition upstairs which goes through the history of surgery and even includes a few videos of actual surgical procedures performed. It’s well set out and doesn’t overwhelm you with too much information all at once. There are some pretty amazing zoological specimens of all types of animals as well as some interesting cross sections more anatomical nature. It is definitely not for those who are squeamish about blood and ‘parts’ but I guarantee it will be educational, insightful and a really great way to spend a few hours in the afternoon considering it’s free!

Tip: don’t forget to check out the upstairs section as well.

Good For: school holidays, something different, date night, small groups


Sure thing it is very informative. You’ll get out knowing so much more about the history of medicine than you’ll imagine.

But it can become overwhelming very fast. Between a toad with babies hatching off her back, a chicken head cut in half, medical surgery videos and loads, loads, loads of human body parts kept in jars, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

It’s free, so it’s not like it won’t cost you much to have a look and see if you can deal with the exhibit. I couldn’t! I thought I was strong. Turns out I’m not. I only did the first floor before deciding to run away. Yikes!


One of the most underrated free museums in London! Fascinating to all, not just those with an interest in anatomy and medicine. You've gotta feel sorry for the Irish giant though, he never wanted to end up there.

A really worthwhile few horus can be spent here at no charge, the building itself is also stunning. 


Love free museums? Love hidden gems? Then you’ll love the Hunterian Museum.

Based inside the grand interiors of the Royal College of Surgeon in Lincoln’s Inn Field, the Hunterian Museum is a medical museum with the oldest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens in the UK.

Enlightening and insightful, The Hunterian Museum does a grand job in re-telling the history of surgery in London, pioneering surgeons of the day and the development of surgical practices right through today. 

Try not to wince at the surgical instrument dating as far as the 17th century or squirm at the very graphic video showing a real heart surgery. They don’t hold back at the Hunterian! One particular highlight for me is getting up close with the skeleton of celebrity Charles ‘The Irish Giant’ Byrne, a celebrity back in the Victorian era famed for his 7ft 7-inch frame.There are human and animal remains inside too.

Amazing fact of the day: did you know that early surgeons did not require a medical degree to become a surgeon? Surgeons became qualified by attending lectures and serving apprenticeships before gaining a diploma. Consequently, surgeons still retained their title as Mr or Mrs but not Dr’s. A medical degree only became compulsory in the 20th century.

It ‘s not the biggest museum but boy does it pack a lot into the limited space afforded to it with two floors to explore.

Naturally, if you’re working in the medical field, this is a must-visit for obvious reasons. But even if you’re just a casual wanderer like I am, you’ll find this equally fascinating and audio guides are available at the front desk. 

Finally, before you leave, take some time to explore the cosy library right next door to the museum entrance. You’re welcome to browse the shelves and read up on pathology if that’s what floats your boat.


With loads of anatomical and zoological specimens for you to gawp at, the Hunterian museum is a one-of-a-kind amazing hidden gem. 

If gory, disease-ridden body parts in jars and skeletons are your thing, you’ll love it. Best of all: it’s free to visit.

Staff Writertastemaker

Summon your inner goth with this absolutely perfect museum!

I have a total soft spot for those museums that are basically some nuts old dudes obsessive collection (Wellcome, Horniman, Pitts Rivers) so this is right up my street anyway. but what is super special about this place is the display techniques, very tall glass cabinets with jars containing all manner of gross and intriguing body parts and medical equipment from yesteryear, all up lit like some really spooky scene from Scooby Doo.

Its always super quiet in there and never seems to be too busy, lots of art students slumped on the floor with sketch books and goths on cute scary dates... its one of those places that makes you feel like London is really special and thats reason enough to go for me.


We are so lucky to have such weird and wonderful places to visit in London and all completely for free! This museum houses a fascinating collection of human and animal body parts, some of which you need to have a strong stomach to view! 

You can spend a whole afternoon wandering around this quirky place... a very fun, yet odd place to visit with your friends or by yourself. Every Londoner should visit at least once.


The museum is both fascinating and gruesome.  It is a vast collection of jars of diseased bits of bodies other curiosities.  I has only been open for a few years, although most of the exhibits are from the 1800s and have been in storage for some time since the original museum closed.

I have never been to a museum before where whilst reading about the fascinating history of the exhibits, I have the underlying urge to heave at the thought that I am staring at a syphilitic knee. Usually for me, a trip to a museum is followed by a trip to the café for a nice cake and drink, but I had no appetite for cake after visiting the Hunterian.  Don't let this put you off though, it is very interesting an unusual and a lovely quirky thing to have in London


This museum is a kooky surprise with everything from two headed cats to a collection of human genetalia. The artefacts are well curated and you could spend hours wandering round.


I had no idea the collection would be SO extensive... you can easily spend hours in here if you wanted to really see everything. There's even some nooks and crannies that you might miss. Shelves of animal horns and human bones... it's pretty gruesome (foetus at all stages of development) and infected bones/skulls... it's cool, it's morbid and macabre... and after you can relax in the sun at Lincoln's Inn the Fields... much needed after all the gore!


Great museum but not for the faint hearted. I advise parents of teenage boys to take them there for an educational day trip as the plethora of STD riddled penises/penii will do more than sex education ever can. 

Snap up exclusive discounts in London

Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...