Surgeons' Hall Museums

Surgeons' Hall Museums, Edinburgh: Hours, Address, Surgeons' Hall Museums Reviews: 4.5/5

Surgeons' Hall Museums
4.5
Speciality Museums • Science Museums • History Museums
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10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
Surgeons' Hall Museums is an award winning Museum that is home to one of the largest and most historic pathology collections in the United Kingdom. Surgeons’ Hall Museums reopened in 2015 after a major £4.4 million Heritage Lottery Funded redevelopment project. As one of the oldest Museums in Scotland, the collections grew from 1699 after 'natural and artificial curiosities' were publically sought. In the 1800s, the Museums expanded to include the remarkable collections of Sir Charles Bell and John Barclay, with the Playfair Building opening in 1832 to house these. Whilst the Museums were initially established as a medical teaching resource, all are now welcome to visit. The Museums are currently home to an extensive collection of pathology, anatomy and medical ephemera.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: 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.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
1,709 reviews
Excellent
1,138
Very good
464
Average
84
Poor
15
Terrible
8

Petunia Landside
35 contributions
May 2021 • Couples
The museum is really really good, very informative and gory. Definitely must see if in Edinburgh.
The tour however with Chris was a slight disappointment, not allowing masks off OUTSIDE when we were doing a 1m distancing. He rudely asked if I know my mouth AND nose were attached to my lungs when I was putting it back on and pulling it out to cover my whole face. With a mask on himself I struggled to hear but otherwise the tour was informative and I would recommend with a different guide. To add Chris was 10 minutes late and we were not told, just aimlessly standing waiting and we were thinking about leaving.
Ignore that and the tour was great, informative and the museum is really unique and fascinating.
Written May 16, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hello. We’re sorry to hear you were disappointed with our Blood and Guts walking tour. The safety of our guides and visitors is our main priority therefore we do require both guides and visitors to wear face coverings (unless medically exempt) while on the tour. We do publicise this policy on both our Eventbrite booking page and our website and this policy is in line with other walking tours in the city. We have spoken to Chris and the comment about the nose and mouth being attached to the lungs is a joke he makes at the start of each of his tours and is not directed at anyone in particular. We apologise for the time keeping. This is not our usual standard and we will be looking into this further. We’re glad you enjoyed your visit to the museum. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review.
Written May 18, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Glen O
13 contributions
Aug 2021 • Couples
A good afternoon with many interesting exhibits. I would recommend the museum to anyone interested in a health care environment or who were studying or considering an education course in an associated field. Our only disappointment with the afternoon was a lady who worked in the ticket office was abrasive and rude and far from helpful. The polar opposite from her younger colleague who was pleasant, helpful and informative.
Written August 8, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hi Glen. We're glad to hear you enjoyed exploring our collections. We are sorry to hear about the interaction you had with our staff, this is unusual as we are normally complimented on how friendly our team are. We will discuss this with our front of house team. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review.
Written August 9, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travel_BugReading_UK
Reading, UK145 contributions
Aug 2021
We visited following a mention by a Walking Tour Guide and we were not disappointed. Many highly informative displays and exhibits at the start meant that we spent rather too long at the beginning, leaving less time too look at the hundreds of jars of body parts later on [although the fact that we could go away and re-enter museum later in the day using the same ticket may have been a bonus if we'd had no other plans]. Great also to receive a concession as an NHS worker . Body parts were not as gruesome as depicted and were a fascinating and interesting insight into diseases past and present. I would say that it is actually a privilege to have access to these and to witness something first hand which we would otherwise never experience.
Exhibits from the Great War and more recent ones relating to loss of limbs in Afghanistan were particularly moving and we would have spent more time there and less time amongst 'the jars' if the admissions literature [map] had been a little more informative.
Great presentation and relaxed pace. Not too busy and highly recommended.
Written September 1, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hello! It's great to hear you enjoyed your visit. Thank you for your feedback about the maps we hand out at the ticket desk, we will take this into consideration when we next review the design. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!
Written September 2, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

paulanchris
Greasby, UK480 contributions
Jul 2021 • Couples
I was really looking forward to this visit. Unlike most museums this charged an entry fee of £9.00 I was so glad I was able to get a concession of 4.50 and I still dont feel it was worth it.
Unless you just want to look at parts of human bodies preserved in formaldehyde give this exhibit a miss.
It just didnt grab my attention. Wouldn't waste your money. You couldn't even take photos
Written July 1, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hello. We're sorry to hear you did not enjoy your visit to the museum. We understand that our collections are not for everyone. As we are not funded by local or national government we do need to charge an entry fee to help us preserve our historic collection of national significance. At £8 for adults and £4.50 for concessions we are one of the cheapest paid for attractions in the city. Due to the nature of our collections, we do have to adhere to the Human Tissue Act which means we cannot allow visitors to take pictures in the galleries. We hope you enjoyed the rest of your day.
Written July 2, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

ElloWorld
Yarm, UK32 contributions
Aug 2020 • Solo
I scheduled my visit when I had a couple off hours to kill in the city alone.
I estimate you could spend 2 - 2.5hrs here, if you stopped and read every exhibit and attended the tour (sadly I didn’t have time to). I spent exactly an hour and a half, though I took a whistle stop tour of the main museum; I had seen it on a previous visit, but had to pass through it anyway, on route to the pathology museum (which I’d had to miss on that occasion) due to the one way system in place around the whole facility.
The toilets were clean and modern and although there is a small cafe, I didn’t get chance to try it. The price of admission was worth every penny, especially considering what a unique collection this museum holds.

I enjoyed my visit, but don’t try it if you’re even a little bit squeamish, because most of the exhibits are quite literally morbid. I’m normally the type to stop and read about every single item on display, and it’s worth the extra time in this place, not least because you’ll not likely see such exhibits in any other museum.

The pathology museum was likewise fascinating, but not for the even vaguely squeamish. Be warned that there are skeletons behind you, when you walk around the mezzanine level - I tend to see something interesting and walk straight at it and had the pants scared off me when I turned around from a shelf to see 4 whole (if deformed) skeletons looking at me from their cases.
I also enjoyed the WWI exhibits on the ground floor, though even I found the inclusion of a section of human face in that display a bit too strange, at best.

The only reason I give this a 4 instead of 5, is that I’d like to visit again, but i think it has a limited market for revisiting, as you’ll readily forget any of the displays in a hurry.

In summary, this place is well worth the time and the money spent and makes for a truly fascinating couple of hours, but bear in mind there are actual ex-people and their parts on display and this is definitely not a place to take the faint hearted (which incidentally may be a display in the pathological museum if you look hard enough).
Written August 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hello. It's great to hear you enjoyed your time at the museum. We are opening two new galleries next year which will focus on the future of surgery, so if you are thinking of visiting again then there will be something new for you to see. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review.
Written September 3, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Glenn K
Coldstream, UK18 contributions
Aug 2021 • Friends
This is the second time I have visited the museum and the second time I have not been disappointed about anything. I saw more things the second time round and came away more informed than I expected to be. The exhibits are really interesting and the history behind them is a real eye opener. The staff were all excellent and we felt very safe in these Covid times. I would highly recommend the museum to anyone visiting Edinburgh in the future.
Written August 9, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hello! It's brilliant to hear you had such a great second visit to the museum. Thank you for your kind comments about our team and for taking the time to leave a review!
Written August 10, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Kristian
Ljubljana, Slovenia31 contributions
Sep 2020 • Couples
If you just want to see some stuff its cool, but if you want to take a bit of time for the museum take most of your day for it. It is gigantic and there are jars everywhere. It is also interactive and includes a bunch of unapropriate videos for a weak stomach. I loved the whole museum and am really blown by it. We were 2 (students) and paid 9. The prices for the museums (all that I visited) are really fair considering what visitors get in return. It is amazing
Written September 24, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hi Kristian. We're glad to hear you thoroughly enjoyed your time in the museum. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!
Written September 30, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Wendy R
1 contribution
May 2022 • Couples
If you only do one tour in Edinburgh - make it this one. Gerry was a one man show, informative, animated and entertaining. With grisly tales from across the centuries he captivated us all leaving us with an unforgettable experience. Not only the best of the four Edinburgh tours we took, but right up there with the best tours I’ve taken in my holidaying life. And make sure you add in time to go around the museum itself. A truly superb tour
Written May 8, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Lea
United Kingdom79 contributions
Apr 2022 • Friends
What a great museum. The museum nicely explained how over time we have understood the workings of the human body and the advances in technology as a result. The pathology specimens were really interesting and my children enjoyed the questionnaire as we went round. I would highly recommend a visit
Written April 21, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hello! It's fantastic to hear that you all enjoyed your visit to the museum and that it got the kids asking questions. Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!
Written April 21, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Touran P
Sunderland, UK1,019 contributions
Feb 2020 • Friends
I spent a couple of hours here with my Mam on our trip to Edinburgh. The museum offers NHS discount which makes the ticket almost half price (£4.50). The museum was over 4 floors, detailing the history of anatomy, dentistry and surgical operations. Whilst I found it fascinating, my Mam was a bit bored as it was quite dry. It was very informative and there were plenty of pickled organs and body parts in jars to see but it is quite repetitive, there were also a lot of items displayed without written explanations about them. I thought the history on body snatching was interesting as well as the surgical show on the model body. There didn’t seem to be a lot of things to do for the kids, I believe there was a quiz sheet they could do, but there wasn’t many interactive features in the museum. Photos were not allowed to be taken because of the human tissue on display.

Overall, I would visit again as I have a morbid curiosity in this field, but it’s not for everyone.
Written February 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hello! We're pleased to hear you found your visit fascinating. You're right in saying that we do provide a trail sheet for kids to do while they go round. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review.
Written February 24, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Surgeons' Hall Museums

Surgeons' Hall Museums is open:
  • Sun - Sat 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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