Friday, 24 August 2012

Hunterian Museum

I worked next door to this place and never managed to visit the Hunterian museum in London. It's almost worth just to see inside the Royal College of Surgeons' building to be honest. The collection consists mainly of John Hunter's personal collection of organs and specimens in formaldehyde/alcohol from insects through to human foetuses. To be honest the sheer number of glass jars is overwhelming but there are some very interesting specimens and it was clear that he was driving at something with his dissections - often looking at the similarities in organs throughout species.
The history of Hunter and his contribution to the field of surgery is also fascinating. I wasn't even aware that you didn't requite a medical degree to be a surgeon during his time and it was something you learned via apprenticeship. I guess this is because the profession was very similar to that of a butcher at that time. Fortunately, Hunter was a surgeon who applied scientific method to his work and, along with other similar thinkers, the profession of surgery was transformed.
The upper floor has an interesting history of surgery and it's quite amazing how far things have progressed. It's also quite terrifying how painful and deadly surgery was back then and how we really take things for granted. That said by looking at the history of surgery up to modern techniques, I'm sure people a century from now will look on our surgical/medical practices and think we were barbaric.

It's definitely worth a look but be warned it's not for the squeamish!

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