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“Fascinating, but not for the squeamish!”

Surgeons' Hall Museums
Ranked #30 of 443 things to do in Edinburgh
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: 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.
Useful Information: Wheelchair access
Reviewed July 11, 2013

A really well presented and interpreted, curious, museum stuffed with a bizarre mix of ghoulish/educational artefacts and materials. It's definitely not for the squeamish, but it's incredibly interesting and well worth a visit and every penny of the admission price. Ignore those who criticise the unusual entrance route - so what?! My only criticism is that I would like for more of the specimens on display to have been dated, or dated more clearly - I bet they're probably older than most people realise. I particularly liked (or is that the wrong word?) the objects with Burke and Hare associatons - grisly!

Thank Lauren P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"body parts"
in 121 reviews
"human body"
in 80 reviews
"fascinating museum"
in 22 reviews
"medical science"
in 18 reviews
"modern medicine"
in 17 reviews
"strong stomach"
in 16 reviews
"surgical instruments"
in 14 reviews
"sherlock holmes"
in 16 reviews
"burke and hare"
in 26 reviews
"on display"
in 51 reviews
"visited this museum"
in 12 reviews
"amazing collection"
in 11 reviews
"interesting place to visit"
in 13 reviews
"couple of hours"
in 34 reviews
"interactive displays"
in 12 reviews
"excellent museum"
in 10 reviews
"entrance fee"
in 18 reviews
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828 - 832 of 1,150 reviews

Reviewed July 8, 2013

What a marvellous museum! My wife and I visited this museum on the first day of a short break in Edinburgh. It was recommended to us by friends, with the warning that it isn't for the faint of heart! Some of the displays are a little "gruesome" - severed limbs, fetal skeletons, you get the idea. But it is a really interesting museum. There is a lot of information to absorb here, about the history of surgery and the history of Edinburgh.
A looped video of Conan Doyle is a highlight, as well as a key-hole surgery model that gives you the opportunity to try your hand at a little surgery!
Definitely worth a visit, a great way to spend your afternoon and at only £5.00 it was a bargain!

Thank PeteWils
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 2, 2013

Visiting Surgeons' Hall at the RCS in Edinburgh was definitely one of the things on my 'to do' list whilst in that beautiful city. And I wasn't disappointed. I had visited the Hunterian Museum in London a few months before, and decided a trip to its Scottish counterpart would be worthwhile. After a short walk through the courtyard of the college, and up some rather ancient-looking steps, I gained entry to the museum for just a £3 concession as an NHS worker (youngsters and senior citizens also have the same benefit).

The history of anatomy in Scotland (in particular in Edinburgh) is explained concisely, with a number of intriguing historical artifacts, as well as an extraordinary treasure trove of anatomical and pathological specimens. As one would expect, due note is paid to the body snatchers of the 1800s without the sensationalism which could so easily have taken over in a less tasteful establishment.

What struck me about many of the exhibits in the museum was the significant link with warfare in Britain and Europe - countless broken bones, complete with embedded musket balls in situ, really bringing to life (no pun intended) the seriousness of trauma pathology, and the horror of battle.

All-in-all, a visit to Surgeons’ Hall is an educational experience I would recommend to anyone with an interest in the form and function of the human body. Be prepared to view some amazing sights which explain in great detail the wonder and the variety which exists within our own species. And remember to spare a thought for all those who have gone before – the dissectors and the dissected, the curators and the artists – who have given so much to the art of science.

Follow the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh on twitter @RCSEd

Thank DrRossAtkinson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2013

The museum itself is very interesting- for me the highlight was a video interview with Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Also some good detail on the "resurrectionists".

Thank settlers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed June 30, 2013

1st a warning: the ground floor entrance to this museum is closed & you get redirected to an entrance off a quiet little square behind the main road - and have to climb to the top of the building. I think it was about 6 flights. Don't even attempt this unless you're fit as there's no lift.

There's also no facilities at all except a basic loo, so you might want to look around for an hour or so nip out for a coffee and come back - if you can face the stairs again!

It is a place that merits 1-2 hours at least of your time, and it costs £5 (£3 for concessions).

You get a well documented history of medicine in Scotland/Edinburgh, and then you can roam the extensive collection that's split into many sections, including the whole upper floor for modern surgery and a huge downstairs hall with exhibition cases of specimens and artefacts/stories of a lot of military campaigns that ironically led to so many advances in the field of medicine and medical instruments/procedures.

There are lots of PC clips about conditions and illnesses, and things to try out like a microscope. There are the usual grim specimens in bottles and lots of dioramas.

We weren't very keen on the dental section which made your teeth ache and your tum wobble to look at it. we take so much for granted now but people suffered dreadfully in a time before simple and effective anaesthetics were the norm.

However the other sections were truly fascinating though some were hard to bear like the evidence of people with huge facial tumours etc.. No photos are allowed because these are human specimens for the most part from people long dead: some of them from people who made other people dead like Burke and Hare. Perhaps the prize for the mist bizarre exhibit does go to the notebook covered with Burke's skin. In a kind of eye for an eye scenario, he was dissected publicly and his skin used for souvenirs.....

If you do visit surgeon's halls, I say get fit physically and toughen up mentally: it's a challenging place but very worthwhile to be faced with so much we prefer not to think about as we all try to survive with as little contact with the medical profession we can manage .

Thank hfulton32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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