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Surgeons' Hall Museums

Certificate of Excellence
Southside & Holyrood
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Address: Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DW, Scotland
Phone Number: +44 131 527 1711
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Closed now
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Sun - Sat 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Fee: Yes

Surgeons’ Hall Museums (SHM), part of the Royal College of Surgeons of...

Surgeons’ Hall Museums (SHM), part of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, houses one of the largest and most historic collections of artefacts charting the history and development of surgery. The collections include surgical instruments and artworks and one of the largest collections of anatomical specimens in the world.

These specimens are displayed in the Wohl Pathology Museum, which is located within the iconic building designed by William Playfair in 1832.

All of the exhibits which have made SHM world-famous will be back on display: including a pocket book made from the skin of the infamous murderer, William Burke; and exhibits relating to Dr Joseph Bell, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s teacher and main inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, the highlight of which is a letter from the author crediting his mentor as such.

The reopened SHM, whose transformation has been supported by a £2.7m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will also feature even more interactive and display exhibits, which will help visitors from all around the world discover the stories and breakthroughs that have shaped modern surgical practice.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 667 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 380
  • 188
    Very good
  • 27
  • 7
  • 4
Well worth the small fee

This visit was really for me because I'm into death etc and wanted to see the pathology collection. My husband still found it interesting, he described being 'fascipulsed... read more

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed 3 days ago
Jo G
London, United Kingdom
via mobile
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667 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 606: English reviews
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
64 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 days ago NEW via mobile

This visit was really for me because I'm into death etc and wanted to see the pathology collection. My husband still found it interesting, he described being 'fascipulsed', simultaneously fascinated and repulsed. Lots to learn and the free short tour will help you work out which sections will be of most interest to you.

Thank Jo G
Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 days ago NEW

Temporary exhibition was a good start to the place. Then a bit of a history of surgeons and barbers - with great stories, specimen and examples. The Pathology part is very well displayed and shows clearly. Spend around 4 hours in the place and really enjoyed it. Informative and interesting!

Thank Lillaith
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
31 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 days ago NEW

Lived in Edinburgh for many years and never visited this attraction until now due to work commitments. Excellent admissions price compared to others in the city. The history of medicine is so fascinating, but really not for young children. It will not be everyone's cup of tea. No photography, damn, would have liked a picture of the shrunken heads !!!

Thank thespecialist2710
Level Contributor
15 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago NEW via mobile

Not a planned visit, but one attraction that I won't forget in a hurry. Not for the squeamish!! Incredibly interesting stuff - everything you could wish for in a bottle! On a serious note - very educational. Well worth the visit and a beautiful well set out building.

Thank sunshine246Scotland
Level Contributor
26 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

Not everyone will appreciate this place, but I sure did. If you're weird like me, you could easily spend a couple hours here. There was someone there who got a bit faint at some of the displays so if you're squeamish it's probably not for you. It has body parts and surgical tools.

Thank SecularEthicist
Dover, Kent
Level Contributor
60 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

There is so much to see in this attraction. The exhibits are well laid out and the descriptions beside the exhibits make it all very clear. However if you are squeamish this is not for you. I think nursing or medical students or indeed anyone with an interest in human anatomy would benefit from visiting here. There is something for... More 

Thank jeanniedDover_Kent
Level Contributor
62 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

Very good value at only £6 each. I could have spent much longer here as there are thousands of exhibits showing both the history of surgery and the results dating back hundreds of years. It is not for the faint-hearted! I especially liked the temporary display of shrunken heads.

Thank Joanne C
Hastings, New Zealand
Level Contributor
87 reviews
50 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

There are two sections to this museum - both recently refurbished. All excellent!! The right side you go into first is interactive and fun, its really well set up! Everyone will love it. The second part is all body parts - I am not squeamish and enjoyed looking in all the jars, as did the many kids inside with me!... More 

Thank Monique B
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

A trip through history in a modern building. As a medical student in Newcastle I found the hundreds of preserved tissue samples extremely interesting. From melanomas and carcinoma, ranging from fully dissected eyes to a whole foot, the gonads and even fully preserved paediatric skeletons. Defiantly worth £3.50 for students.

Thank Alex C
Level Contributor
19 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

We visited the surgeons halls museum and i thought is was ok or was i expecting more i always wanted to go but was a little let down in my opinion I thought there would be more gore if you like or more interactive exhibitions but for what it was it was ok I may of been expecting more but... More 

Thank David O

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Staying in Southside & Holyrood

Neighborhood Profile
Southside & Holyrood
Many of Edinburgh’s student hangouts gather around university buildings in Southside, the sort of neighborhood that supports a long string of second-hand shops and eateries serving ethnic food for just a few pounds. In August the student population is replaced by vast numbers of boisterous visitors here for the Fringe, Edinburgh’s world-class comedy and arts festival which headquarters itself here. Flanking Southside are two great parks. The Meadows is a vast flat and sporty space where football, rugby, tennis, cricket, croquet, and golf often all take place side by side. Kids in its big playgrounds add to the joyful noise. Far bigger and much wilder, Holyrood Park extends to the east and provides a real hike up Arthur’s Seat, but the district is best known as the site of Scotland’s Parliament and its premier Royal Palace—and their steady stream of sightseers.
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