Robbie Smith of the Evening Standard has taken a look at the transformed Hunterian Museum in London.
"Welcome, then, to the newly reopened Hunterian Museum, free to enter, where nothing is in its right place."
"The Hunterian has been closed for the past six years while the Royal College of Surgeons, which houses the museum off Lincoln’s Inn Fields, underwent an almost total metamorphosis (only the listed 19th century façade of the building remains). The spirit of change has spread to the Hunterian’s collection too, and not before time...Now exhibits are contextualised, with signs explaining that much of what Hunter did was not particularly ethical by today’s standards – and how some of his theories and work later led people down intellectual cul-de-sacs that were unacceptably racist. Such signs aren’t in your face, though. What is in your face, quite literally at some points, is an entire wall of countless mind-boggling specimens."
"But what exhibits they are. It is an awe-inspiring and morbidly fascinating collection. You look on things which were never meant to see the light of day: the horrifying throat of a turtle complete with fleshy, protruding spines; a dizzying collection of human foetuses (some just at 9 weeks’ growth); spines bent almost in two by tuberculosis; a seemingly endless array of tumours, cancers, and bone growths; syphilitic skulls, and sundry body parts floating in preservative."
"It is by turns sick-making, overstuffed, and crazy, but I left entranced and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I know I’ll be going back."
Robbie Smith, the Evening Standard
"The museum is now arranged chronologically, the chief effect of which is to make you thank the heavens you were born now and not at any other time in history. It’s a big nope to Romans operating on patients with hacking bronze tools, and a nope to surgeons drilling through skulls to relieve pressure on the brain. So the last rooms, which show the cleaner, more effective wonder of modern medical science are a relief."
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