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Hunterian Museum rediscovers London's lost museums

21 February 2011

The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons will open its latest exhibition London’s Lost Museums: Nature and Medicine on Show on Tuesday 1st March 2011, celebrating early natural history and anatomical collections once displayed in the capital, now ‘lost’ due to neglect, dispersal or destruction.

With manuscripts, illustrations and specimens, London’s Lost Museums will bring to life the contents, purpose and fate of seven* historic collections, and paint a portrait of curators and museum practices of the last 350 years. The exhibition, which will run until Saturday 2nd July 2011, will also provide an opportunity to see fascinating objects such as a rare illustrated catalogue, Museum Regales’ Societis from 1681, a mummified foot believed to be from the Royal Society’s Repository, and hear about the devastating bomb damage inflicted upon the Hunterian Museum during the Second World War.

Sarah Pearson, Curator at the Hunterian Museum, said:

“Displays of natural history and anatomy have been popular in London since the 17th century and were curated for various reasons, some enhanced social and professional credentials while others were created to inspire wonder or to educate. Whatever their purpose, precious remains of collections forgotten, dispersed or damaged have found their way into today’s museums, including the Hunterian Museum, and so centuries on are still helping to explain  the world of nature and medicine.”

Further information on London’s Lost Museums can be found at http://www.rcseng.ac.uk/museums/exhibitions admission to the museum and exhibition is free.

* The seven ‘lost’ natural history and anatomy museums featured in the exhibition are:
1. The Royal Society’s Repository - 17th to 18th century.
2. Sir Hans Sloane’s Museum - 17th to 18th century.
3. Sir Ashton Lever’s Holophusikon and the Museum Leverianum - 18th to 19th century.
4. William Bullock’s Egyptian Hall - early 19th century.
5. Joshua Brookes’ museum of anatomy and natural history - 18th to 19th century.
6. John Heaviside’s anatomy museum - 18th to 19th century.
7. The original College Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons - 19th to 20th century.

                                                               

Notes to Editors

1. Images available on request.

2. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808.

3. The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England is based on the collections of the 18th-century surgeon John Hunter. Its permanent displays include over 3,500 specimens of human and animal anatomy and pathology, as well as exhibitions about surgery and medicine. The museum is open to all and admission is free.

4. If you have any queries please contact:
- Matthew Worrall – Email: mworrall@rcseng.ac.uk; T: 020 7869 6047
- Elaine Towell - Email: etowell@rcseng.ac.uk; T: 020 7869 6045
- Heather Casey - Email: hcasey@rcseng.ac.uk; T: 020 7869 6042
- Out-of-hours: 07966 486 832