Anatomy: A Matter of Death and Life

  • 01 September 2022 - 30 October 2022
  • (All day, 10am to 5pm) | • £7.50 - £10.00 per person (National Museums Scotland Members and Under 16’s – Free)
  • National Museum of Scotland Exhibition Gallery 1 (Level 3)

From the art of Leonardo da Vinci to the Burke and Hare murders, explore 500 years of medical history and exploration in this new exhibition.

 Medicine Cabinet National Museums Scotland(Image Copyright National Museums Scotland)

In this fascinating new exhibition, visitors can explore Edinburgh’s role as an international centre for medical teaching and explore insights into how crime and science were closely linked in the city in the early 19th century.  See first-hand the challenges and problems Edinburgh faced when the demand for bodies to dissect outstripped the supply, which in turn lead to increased murders and grave robbing across the city.

The story is then brought up to date, comparing the beliefs and practices today with those of 200 years ago, and looks closely at areas such as body donation for the purposes of medical science.

Notable displays include the Arthur's Seat Coffins - a collection of 17 tiny coffins each containing a carved wooden doll that were found on Arthur’s Seat in 1836 and even today, still baffle us as to why and by whom placed them there - sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, which explore the human body in astonishing detail and a mort safe – a cage-like tomb that was placed over the graves of the recently deceased to deter graverobbers.

Combing art, science, cultural and medical history, this exhibition will be sure to educate and entertain, while also highlighting Edinburgh’s place as an international centre for medical study.

Tickets can be booked here >

Arthurs Seat Coffins Copyright National Museums Scotland

(Image Copyright National Museums Scotland)



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