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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 631 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 358
  • 178
    Very good
  • 26
  • 7
  • 4
Thoroughly interesting morning spent learning about the history of Surgery

My wife and I visited the museum on our honeymoon, it was on the list of things to do before we got to Edinburgh. We spent a good few hours walking round, seeing how medical... read more

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed yesterday
Thomas B
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631 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 573: English reviews
Level Contributor
9 reviews
8 attraction reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed yesterday NEW

My wife and I visited the museum on our honeymoon, it was on the list of things to do before we got to Edinburgh. We spent a good few hours walking round, seeing how medical science began. The displays are incredible, and the interactive activities are fun to try.

Thank Thomas B
Alstonville, Australia
Level Contributor
97 reviews
47 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed yesterday NEW via mobile

The Surgeons Museums is truely a great place to visit. There is no other museum displaying the history of surgery for public viewing that I know off. I was spellbound by many of the medical exhibits and their detail is brilliant. A great museum for those interested in medical history.

Thank pandkgraham
Derby, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
94 reviews
43 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed yesterday NEW

I had a great time wondering around here looking at shelves upon shelves of human body parts in jars. Some informative displays on medicine and surgery throughout history, this is an excellent alternative museum.

Thank rakadactyl
Level Contributor
26 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

I must say although this museum is impressive in the scope of its collection, I found it depressing. Shelves and shelves of jars of cancerous tumors--just not my thing. I can imagine this would be very educational for a medical student or for those who are just interested in the macabre.

Thank jlwine2
Selkirk, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
22 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

Most people just walk by but entering into the world of early surgery is fascinating early instruments, exhibits and facts. Well worth a visit

Thank Jim M
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
41 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

Our guest requested to go to the Surgeon's Hall Museum and as we had never been either (despite living in the city for many years now) it was an opportunity to go too. It's split over four floors and the first half of the museum takes you through the history of the barbers and surgeons in Edinburgh, and then how... More 

Thank TheLawMan78
Charlotte, North Carolina
Level Contributor
19 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

If you are involved in medicine or are fascinated by it, you can't miss this. Filled with videos, specimens, and photos this is a great place to learn and understand medicine, for the novice and expert.

Thank Jim D
Weed, California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

I have wanted to visit here for years, since my early years pre-university. A healthcare professional, I was very nostalgic in the old classrooms and the operating theatre. Lots of videos and trivia. A beautifully done tribute to the long and distinguished medical history of Edinburgh...a major, if not THE center of modern surgery and medicine.

Thank Donna B
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
15 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 days ago NEW via mobile

Went here with my husband because we thought it would be interesting. The historic value of this place was great but I didn't apreciate that my stomach wasn't as strong as I thought! We left early feeling squeamish. Great though if you like that sort of thing!

Thank Carol C
Loftus, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
18 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 days ago NEW

Well this was most odd! Well set out over a few floors but some parts are to be avoided if you are of a delicate disposition shall we say? Brilliant to see the development of surgery through time, the changing and modernising of instruments and the wealth of interesting things here. Now the pathology areas....interesting for me however as mentioned... More 

Thank Katja D

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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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