Gallery Visit: Surgeons Hall Museum – Edinburgh

When planning my 2 day visit to Edinburgh I discovered Surgeons Hall Museum and was so excited. It is one of the most comprehensive collections of medical specimen’s in the UK.

I have long had a fascination with the body and the opportunity to take a close look at preserved examples was too good an opportunity!

There were examples of trepanation as well as the tools used, as well as fractured skulls some sustained during the First World War. Other injuries from gas gangrene and bullet wounds.


I found this sample particularly fascinating, and found myself absolutely captivated. Looking closely he looks asleep, but the real eeriness I felt, I think, came from the fact you could almost see character in those closed eyes. Every detail was perfectly preserved, every tiny hair.

It really got me thinking about makes us individual, what makes us, us? When do we cease to be ourselves? Is it just our ability to speak, laugh, cry or is there something else?

The brain specimens also fascinated me. The smooth texture that looks like nothing, really can do such immense things. Our complex emotions cannot be seen.

This felt like a really privileged visit, a special opportunity to view actual specimen’s not just photographic images where you wouldn’t be able to see behind or the side.