The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons opened its latest exhibition Londons Lost Museums: Nature and Medicine, celebrating early natural history and anatomical collections once displayed in the capital, now lost due to neglect, dispersal or destruction.
With manuscripts, illustrations and specimens, Londons Lost Museums brings to life the contents, purpose and fate of seven historic collections, and paint a portrait of curators and museum practices of the last 350 years. The exhibition, which will run until Saturday 2nd July 2011, also provides an opportunity to see fascinating objects such as a rare illustrated catalogue, Museum Regales Societis from 1681, a mummified foot believed to be from the Royal Societys Repository, and hear about the devastating bomb damage inflicted upon the Hunterian Museum during the Second World War.
Sarah Pearson, Curator at the Hunterian Museum, said: Displays of natural history and anatomy have been popular in London since the 17th century and were curated for various reasons, some enhanced social and professional credentials while others were created to inspire wonder or to educate. Whatever their purpose, precious remains of collections forgotten, dispersed or damaged have found their way into todays museums, including the Hunterian Museum, and so centuries on are still helping to explain the world of nature and medicine.
Further information on Londons Lost Museums can be found here
The seven lost natural history and anatomy museums featured in the exhibition are:
1. The Royal Societys Repository - 17th to 18th century.
2. Sir Hans Sloanes Museum - 17th to 18th century.
3. Sir Ashton Levers Holophusikon and the Museum Leverianum - 18th to 19th century.
4. William Bullocks Egyptian Hall - early 19th century.
5. Joshua Brookes museum of anatomy and natural history - 18th to 19th century.
6. John Heavisides anatomy museum - 18th to 19th century.
7. The original College Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons - 19th to 20th century.