Trip to the Wellcome Museum and Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons

I’ve decided to change my ‘what I’ve been up’ pages to posts – I think it’ll just look better!

Anyways on 13th Feb 2014 I went to the Hunterian Museum based at the Royal College of Surgeons as I had a meeting with the curator of the Wellcome museum of pathology and anatomy which is based there. Before Christmas I got in contact with Carina Philips, the curator, to get her opinion about getting work in a museum. Then in January I got a reply from her giving me some advice but also a chance to come and discuss a volunteering opportunity working with an ostological project – this was music to my ears! So I headed into London to meet Carina.

Whilst there we talked about the usual things – what my background is, what the project will involve and why it is needed. Basically the museum is receiving human remains before the Human Tissue Act comes into place in 2016, which will require more people and organisations to obtain the license. However the museum now has boxes of human bones which need to be sorted and catalogued so they know what they are dealing with. Hopefully, I will be helping out with this, depending on a couple of things. I’m very much looking forward to getting the chance to handle human bones again if it all pans out!

After my meeting I visited the Hunterian Museum. Now if you’re interested in human osteology, pathology or medical history I definitely recommend visiting! It’s not in the most touristy areas of London but it’s only a couple of streets over from Fleet street and about a 20 minute walk from Waterloo. There were some incredible specimens including human bones with extensive infections including osteomyelitis, syphilis and spines bent with tuberculosis. One specimen which will stick with me is the huge osteoma (benign bone tumour) which was present on the lower leg of a man. His leg was amputated and the specimen remains in the museum’s collection it is very impressive and HUGE – it weighed 42lbs/19kg! I couldn’t imagine trying to carry that around with me.

Along with the incredible specimens there were also exhibitions explaining the history of medicine and surgery. Some of the equipment and tools used in the past were vicious! There was a particular exhibition on at the moment looking at plastic surgery in WWI, particularly disfigurement of the face through bomb explosions. Although some of the techniques and instruments used looked pretty scary it did change the lives of many and was the start of great, innovative surgery.

I could go on and on about what I saw at the museum but I really suggest visiting for yourself. There was also no photography allowed in the museum so you’ll have to go and visit yourself to see all the awesome specimens!

London on a sunny, windy day. taken on my way back from the Hunterian Museum

London on a sunny, windy day. taken on my way back from the Hunterian Museum