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Surgeons at Work: The Art of the Operation

Tuesday 31st March – Saturday 19th September
Qvist Gallery, Hunterian Museum. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm. Free.
Concourse II, Barbara Hepworth 1948. Copyright: Bowness, Hepworth Estate
The link between surgery and art has long been recognised and many artists, including Henry Tonks and Barbara Hepworth, have found inspiration from observing the surgical world. This exhibition features representations of surgeons and surgery from the 16th to the 21st centuries taken from the museum and library collections of the Royal College of Surgeons. These book illustrations, prints, drawings and paintings convey technical information or provide a record of treatment. Many also attempt to capture the emotions and atmosphere of the theatre and reveal something of the relationship between the patient, surgeon and the operating team.

Image: Concourse II, Barbara Hepworth 1948. Copyright: Bowness, Hepworth Estate.

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.

W.A.S. 018 © Julia Midgley 2013

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.

Medical models

Large Levy Case, College entrance hall

Open until Autumn 2015, Monday – Saturday 10am-5pm. Free.

Models have been used in medical education for hundreds of years. Today, three-dimensional teaching aids still play a valuable role in surgical and anatomical training, alongside dissection and computer simulation. This display highlights innovations developed by museum staff at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. It also considers how models could benefit surgeons in the future.

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.