Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
May 4, 2013
From journal London January 2013
March 22, 2005
The collection consists for the most part of thousands of glass jars containing preserved biological specimens, shelved according to the anatomical feature under consideration. There are cases containing dissections of digestive tracts taken from horses, lampreys, and humans; cases containing genitals of all sorts of different mammals, showing both healthy and diseased specimens; a whole section on nipples; and a wide array of other, no-less-lurid subjects. The specimens are all bleached white by the process of preservation, and they're surprisingly beautiful and well-kept; the embalming fluid is evidently changed regularly, and the new glass cases are meticulously polished.
Impressive as the two sparkling floors of bottles are, the initial collection was even larger; the contents of the museum represent only a third of Hunter’s collection. The rest, along with the oak-paneled hall that housed them, was destroyed in the Blitz; the effect of dropping an incendiary bomb on a room full of jars of alcohol was predictably devastating.
Not everything is in bottles, though. There are cases of cross-sections of bones showing healthy and diseased bone formation; the skeleton of a giant; cases containing hideous-looking 18th-century medical instruments; an exhibit on Joseph Lister’s pioneering work on antisepsis; and, upstairs, a really horrific video of surgeons performing brain surgery. (Not horrific because anything goes wrong--just because someone's brain gets cut open.) There's a display on the origins of plastic surgery in the attempts of surgeons to help soldiers disfigured in World War One. More existentially disturbing is Hunter's small collection of portraits of non-white people: a Malay woman, two Cherokee men, and a Chinese man, all looking to the contemporary eye like perfectly normal people, are on exhibit as racial types.
The museum is clearly aimed in part at medical students: explanatory notes on the exhibits do not explain medical terms, so some basic knowledge of biology (or Latin) is helpful.
In case it's not clear, this is not a museum for the squeamish. Little kids will probably find it scary, though some six-year-old boys I've known would think it was about the coolest thing ever.
The museum is open from 10am to 5pm.
From journal Strange Museums in London