The Hunterian Museum is based at the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincolns Inn. The origins of the College date to the fourteenth century with the foundation of the 'Guild of Surgeons Within the City of London'. Certain sources date this as occurring in 1368. There was an ongoing dispute between the surgeons and barber surgeons until an agreement was signed between them in 1493, giving the fellowship of surgeons the power of incorporation. This union was formalised further in 1540 by Henry VIII between the Worshipful Company of Barbers (incorporated 1462) and the Guild of Surgeons to form the Company of Barber-Surgeons. In 1745 the surgeons broke away from the barbers to form the Company of Surgeons. In 1800 the Company was granted a Royal Charter to become the Royal College of Surgeons in London. The correct way to address a member or fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons is to use the title Mr, Miss, Mrs, or Ms (not Dr). This system (which applies only to surgeons, not physicians) has its origins in the 16th century, when surgeons were barber-surgeons and did not have a medical degree (or indeed any formal qualification), unlike physicians, who held a University medical degree. When the College of Surgeons received its royal charter, the Royal College of Physicians insisted that candidates must have a medical degree first. Therefore, an aspiring surgeon had to study medicine first and received the title Doctor. Thereafter, having obtained the diploma of Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons he would revert to the title "Mr" as a snub to the RCP. Nowadays the title "Mr" is used by Members of the College who have passed the diploma MRCS examination and the College addresses Members as "Mr".
In 1799 the government purchased the collection of John Hunter which they presented to the College. This formed the basis of the Hunterian Collection, which has since been supplemented by others including an Odontological Collection (dentistry) and the natural history collections of Richard Owen. The Hunterian Museum displays thousands of anatomical specimens, including the Evelyn tables (The Evelyn tables are a set of four anatomical preparations on wooden boards that are thought to be the oldest anatomical preparations in Europe. They were acquired by John Evelyn in Padua in 1646 and later donated by Evelyn to the Royal Society) and the skeleton of the "Irish giant" Charles Byrne - some seven and a half feet tall -, surgical instruments, and paintings and sculptures about medical individuals and medicine. The current exhibition is Designing Bodies: Models of human anatomy from 1945 to now. Since John Hunter’s time, doctors have learned about the body using three-dimensional models – you can see many examples in the museum’s collections. Anatomists and surgeons use models today for medical education and to develop the latest surgical skills. This exhibition presents how recent models have been devised and made, and how they are used in training. There is a free audio-described tour to help visitors who are blind or partially sighted. They also have a limited number of magnifiers that can be borrowed during your museum visit. Please ask at the Hunterian Museum Reception Desk. Curatorial staff can offer a described tour of the museum with access to our handling collection, subject to staff availability. For visitors who wear a hearing aid, we have a limited number of Bellman Audio Neckloops available to enhance the sound quality and volume of the audio tour. Borrowing the neckloop is included in the price of the audio tour hire. Entry to Hunterian Museum for people who are wheelchair users or have a mobility problems that prevent them from climbing steps is through the entrance at the Nuffield College of Surgical Sciences building to the left of the main college where there is a wheelchair lift. These buildings are linked internally by a direct level route with no stairs.
Location : Royal College of Surgeons, 35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, WC2A 3PE
Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 to 17:00.
Free curator-led guided tour Wednesday at 13:00
Tickets : Free.
Donation of £3.00 is encouraged
Arranged curator led tour groups (up to 30 people) .
30 minutes £100, 45 minutes £150
Tel: 020 7869 6560