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Designing Bodies: Models of human anatomy from 1945 to now

Tuesday 24 November 2015-Saturday 20 February 2016
Qvist Gallery, Hunterian Museum. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm. Free.

Since John Hunter’s time, doctors have learned about the body using three-dimensional models – you can see many examples in the museum’s collections.

Anatomists and surgeons use models today for medical education and to develop the latest surgical skills. This exhibition presents how recent models have been devised and made, and how they are used in training.

wooden leg modelAnatomist David Hugh Tompsett made elaborate casts to show surgeons the vessels within organs, which were designed to be carefully viewed. Surgeon John Herbert Hicks designed movable wooden models to demonstrate how joints work. They both worked in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Today, conservator Martyn Cooke builds replica heads for practicing brain surgery.

To design these models their makers worked with living and dead human bodies, and experimented with a range of different materials, from wax to plastics. Through hands-on trial and error, models are made, tested, used and adapted.

Designing is not only about thinking and planning – designing is about doing.

This exhibition has been generously supported by:

  and The Strauss Charitable Trust

images: copyright Michael Frank


War, Art and Surgery: Work by Julia Midgley

Levy Cases, Inner Hall. Open Monday – Friday 9am–5pm and Saturday 10am-5pm. Free.

Art Cases, Hunterian Museum. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm. Free.

A changing selection of artworks by reportage artist Julia Midgley will be displayed in the foyer cases of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS). They have been selected from over 150 works Midgley made over eighteen months observing military surgical training and rehabilitation at Headley Court, York, RCS and other sites. These examples will be exchanged every few months to demonstrate the diversity of her work which can also be seen in in the main exhibition of War, Art and Surgery in the Hunterian Museum.

The exhibitions at the Hunterian are complemented by an accompanying book available to purchase in the museum and online.

Surgeons, the Great War and the RCS

Ground Floor Corridor. Open Monday – Friday 9am–5pm and Saturday 10am-5pm. Free

The RCS holds in its collections a number of portraits of surgeons who served in the military, and to commemorate their contribution during the First World War six have been selected and are on display on the ground floor of the College.

All were knighted for their role in improving medical provision for the army; four served as Presidents of the RCS, and one as Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery. 

These are only six of the tens of thousands of medical officers, nurses, orderlies and stretcher bearers who contributed to the life-saving work of the medical services during the Great War

Archive facsimile displays

The library and College archives contain a wealth of material related both to surgery and more unusual subjects. A changing display of facsimile materials will reflect key national themes across the year.

Library displays can be seen Monday  Friday 9.30am-5.30pm (call 020 7869 6555 before making a special visit).

Displays in the ground floor cabinets can be viewed Monday 
 Saturday 10am-5pm. Free to visit.

Past exhibitions and displays

Find out more about all previous exhibitions in our Exhibitions archive.