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Museums of the Royal College of Surgeons

There are three distinct museums located within the fine Classical edifice of the Royal College of Surgeons on Edinburgh's Nicholson Street; namely a Pathological Museum, the Sir Jules Thorn Exhibition on the History of Surgery and the Menzies Campbell Dental Museum. The sizeable pathological museum, which was created in 1804 and is situated in the grand Playfair Hall, is the finest of its kind in the UK. It comprises a collection of surgical and anatomical specimens primarily used for research and teaching in medicine and dentistry, together with a range of surgical instruments, primarily of historical interest. The museum expanded through acquiring collections from the likes of Dr. John Barclay (1758 - 1826) and Sir Charles Bell (1774 - 1842).

The History of Surgery Exhibition illustrates the development of surgery, Edinburgh's significant contribution to the field and the history of the College. The more interesting exhibits include a pocket-book fashioned from the skin of resurrectionist and murderer William Burke (1792 - 1829), along with his death mask and items belonging to famous surgeons such as obstetrics pioneer Sir James Young Simpson (1811-70) and infamous anatomist Dr Robert Knox (1791 - 1862).

The Dental Museum opened in 1994 and is one of the largest of its type in Britain. It illustrates the development of dentistry from its earliest days to the modern era. The museum exhibits a collection of dental instruments, artifacts and art, including ivory dentures fitted with real teeth, drills, gruesome tools for tooth-extraction and paintings of dental procedures. The collection had been assembled by dental historian and practitioner, John Campbell Menzies (1887 - 1974) and gifted to the College in 1964.

The college also hosts temporary exhibitions.


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