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Surgeons' Hall Museums

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Surgeons' Hall, 2009
Surgeons' Hall
© kim traynor

Surgeons' Hall Museums are located within the campus of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. The entrance to the museum is located at 9 Hill Square, although visitors can enter via the main college entrance on Nicolson Street where they will be directed to Hill Square via the main building. It should be noted that on weekends and holiday Mondays, entrance is via 9 Hill Square.

The main college entrance can be seen in the selected image, which was provided with the following summary by the photographer:

Built in 1832 to a design by William Playfair, this temple to medicine is one of the magnificent neo-classical buildings which earned Edinburgh the epithet, "Athens of the North". It houses an anatomy museum, among whose grislier exhibits is the skeleton of William Burke, displayed publicly as an explicit consequence of the sentence passed on him for his part in the so-called "West Port murders" of the early 1820s. His accomplice, William Hare, was persuaded to "turn King's evidence" in order to enable a successful prosecution. In return, Hare was freed while Burke went to the gallows. The two men, who are often described erroneously as body-snatchers, are known to have despatched at least sixteen victims to the afterlife in order to sell their dead bodies to the doctors for use as dissection material in lectures at the Edinburgh medical school. The trade in corpses developed at a time when the growth of medical science meant that demand greatly outstripped supply. The murders and the strength of public indignation they aroused against the medical profession gave added impetus to the passing of the 1832 Anatomy Act which increased the legal supply of corpses to the medical schools.

Access to the Pathology Museum is via wide stairway, and via a smaller stairway to the Museum of the History of Surgery. A wheelchair lift is available to the Pathology Museum, and a seated lift (used without wheelchair) is available to the lower Gallery of The History of Surgery Museum, but not to the upper gallery. Visitors are requested to give advance notice if use of these facilities is required.

Disabled toilet facilities are currently only available on the ground floor.

2013 opening hours and admission charges:

Admission : £5 / £3 concession.

From March 30 - October 31, the museum will be open 7 days a week from 10 am - 5 pm (last entry 4:15 pm). For the rest of the year, the museum will be open Monday - Friday, 12 pm - 4 pm.

Special opening times and closures as detailed on the museum's web site (listed below). This should always be checked for current information before travelling.

Surgeons' Hall Museums
Nicolson Street
Edinburgh EH8 9DW

tel : +44(0)131 527 1711/1600
fax : +44(0)131 557 6406

e-mail : [email protected]

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