Anatomical Museum
It’s pretty tricky to get your timings right for visiting the Anatomical Museum as it’s only open on the last Saturday of each month, and not at all in June, July or December. But your forward planning will be thoroughly rewarded by a tour of the most dramatic display of 300 years of anatomical research. Back when the museum moved here in 1880, Edinburgh was the world centre of anatomical teaching, and those who studied these artefacts included Charles Darwin, Thomas Hodgkin, James Young Simpson and Arthur Conan Doyle. The entrance to the museum alone is quite breathtaking – two towering elephant skeletons guard the doorway, a whale’s jawbone nestles into a high arch and a 3D hologram morphs between the human organs, muscular and nervous systems. The main floor is filled with skeletons, models and preserved prosections. The back wall is lined with white plaster head casts used for the study of phrenology, including that of Franz J o s e p h G a l l , f o u n d e r o f t h i s n ow o u t d at e d “science”. Though some of the displays are not for the faint of heart, many pieces are unexpectedly beautiful, such as the coral-like resin casts of the lung’s vessels. Star residents include “Mercury Man” – a corpse p r e s e r v e d i n l a c q u e r who is the result of one of the earliest methods of studying the body’s work ings, by merc ur y injection, which would trace the route of whichever system it entered. Mercury Man may be shrivelled and blackened but he helped Alexander Monro II understand the lymphatic system. Here too is the skeleton of the notorious William Burke, who is still carrying out his 1829 sentence: to be hanged, dissected and put on display in the museum, like those bodies he had so over-zealously supplied. If you ask nicely, you can be taken up a winding back staircase to the artists’ garret, where diagrams for teaching were produced. In the corner is a hoist to bring body parts up through a trapdoor from the dissection room below. And in the centre stands a specially built display table, with a hole for draining fluids. It’s worth organising yourself to get here soon as there are plans to move the museum alongside the Surgeons’ Hall. This would have the advantage of allowing many more of the thousands of objects to come out from storage in the catacombs below Teviot, but the amazing sense of travel back to a time when this place was at the heart of the scientific world would be sadly lost

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Can be difficult to find when it is actually open but if you do get a tour there are some gruesome and archaic exhibitions to see!

What a great experience! Don't expect too much entertainment, it is just one large room with a lot of facinating, but sparsely labeled objects. We spent about 30 minutes there, and I am glad we did. Entrance is free, and make sure it is indeed open before you go there!

Great exhibits detailing the history of medicine in Edinburgh. The death masks are very interesting, as is the story of the demise of Burke and Hare.

FREE but... Incredibly crowded as it's only open the last Saturday of each month. Quite good displays to be seen but it's of no use if every parent in the city with a pram decides to come at the same time.

Website says it was open but it was shut. We traveled ages to get there but it was closed and no one knew if it was open or not. No signs saying anything or acknowledging it even exists. What a waste.

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