The Bell Collection
Charles Bell (1774-1842) was born in Edinburgh. He was apprenticed to his surgeon brother John (1763 -1820) in 1792, working alongside him at his anatomy school in Edinburgh’s Surgeon Square. In 1799 Charles qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and took over the formal teaching at the school. He moved to London in 1804 and in 1812 bought the Great Windmill Street Anatomy School. Some 3,000 specimens from the anatomy collection he amassed there was sold to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh for £3000 in 1825.
The most famous of all Surgeons’ Hall Museum conservators,
Dr Robert Knox (1791-1862), was involved in almost every aspect of the museum’s development during its great expansion of the 1820s and early 1830s. He was, at the time, the most successful anatomist in Scotland if not Britain, but it was his involvement in one of Britain’s most infamous serial murder cases that led to him becoming the most fictionalised of all Scottish medical men.
The Greig Collection
David Middleton Greig (18641936), Conservator of the
Museum from 1920 to 1936, was an international authority
on bone disease and abnormalities of the skull. During his
professional life as a surgeon, in and around his home city of
Dundee, he formed his own pathology collection, documenting
every case in detail and adding photographs, x-rays and drawings.
The History of Surgeons' Hall Museums - Documents & Papers
Surgeons' Hall Museums house a large collection of surgical and dental instruments. Some, such as the Sqires Inhaler shown here, hold a significant place in the history and development of safe surgical procedures.
In 1971 Scotland’s first radiological collection was begun at Surgeons’ Hall by Dr Bill Copland. A bequest from the estate of Mr Bruce M Dick covered the cost of adapting the old museum workshop and staff room into a dedicated space for the new X-ray collection with viewing equipment, donated by Kodak.
The 1840s had seen the establishment of the use of the microscope in medicine and the study of tissue at a minute level, what is now called, histology. In 1846 the museum began forming a series of microscopic preparations on glass slides, the early foundation of the museum’s histology collection.
Casts and Models
The Barclay Collection
John Barclay (1758-1826), a leading anatomy teacher in Scotland, had a particular interest and expertise in comparative anatomy and had
amassed an impressive teaching collection of over 2,500 specimens. He bequeathed his collection to the College on the condition that a new hall was built to accommodate it; this was completed in 1832. Much of Barclay's collection was transferred to other musuems in the 1950s, but a few specimens are still kept at Surgeons' Hall.
The Medina Portraits
Between 1697 and c1708 John Baptiste de Medina (later to become Sir John - he was the last man to be knighted in Scotland before the Act of Union in 1707) was commissioned to produce over thirty oval shaped, gilt framed portraits of the surgeons. As a group they create a unique historical record of a medical community of the period.
Find out about current and upcoming exhibitions.
Find out about the permanent displays at museum.
Find out about past exhibitions at the museum.
View images of the museum, exhibitons and objects.