Book said to be made from William Burke's skin
Dental artwork
Robert Knox - display in History of Surgery Museum
Surgeons' Hall - Playfair Building
Skull at Surgeons' Hall Pathology Museum
Surgeons' Hall - History of Surgery Museum
A trephined skull

The Lister Project

Heritage Lottery Fund LogoThe Lister Project is a new initiative by The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) that will focus on the College’s heritage and create a new and enhanced public space within the Surgeons' Hall museum. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and will eventually cost around four million pounds. The internationally-relevant heritage of the College will inform and excite the general public, and encourage them to think about their health and well-being. 

Realising this vision requires: a lift system that allows for all; modern accessible toilet facilities commensurate with a first class tourist attraction; the creation of an orientation suite that provides historical perspective on the journey of surgery and its advances, unimaginable to patients a mere century ago; exhibit interpretation that inspires public engagement through interactive computer simulation, audience participation devices, filmic and user-friendly textual explanation.

This £4.2m project will allow the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh to develop as a public learning space while maintaining its primary role as a self-funding, charitable body for professional education. We want to tell the on-going story of a subject that fascinates the public through their personal interest and experience and to conserve that history for Fellows, for an international public and for future generations, through preservation of the building, of the collections and the archive for research.

The Lister Project has four elements: 

  1. Create a new stair lift core and orientation space between the Playfair Hall and the Hill Square complex.
  2. Redisplay the Jules Thorn gallery of the museum and widen access to the upper galleries of the Jules Thorn and the Pathology Museum.
  3. Carry out essential stonework conservation and restoration to the front façade of the Playfair building.
  4. Redesign and install a new storage system in the Library basement.

The Heritage Society

The Heritage Society has been developed as a focal point for the recognition of the essential role which philanthropy plays in our work; a channel through which our Membership and the public can support the work of the College in the areas of Heritage, Research and Education. The Society will be governed through a Management Committee comprised of Council, Office Bearer and invited representatives.

Over time the web pages for the Heritage Society will expand with articles on the history of the College, its significant artefacts and activities and the important Fellows whose innovation and ambition have been instrumental in maintaining the College at the forefront of surgical advance for over five centuries.

We hope it will help Fellows and Members to identify more closely with the College and its heritage. The first activity of the Heritage Society will be to support the Lister Project, details of which can be seen on this page.

If you are interested in supporting this project, please consider joining our Heritage Society , or contact .

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The Anatomy of change: The Lister Project