John Hunter and the Anatomy of the Museum

Simon Chaplin describes the extraordinary personal museum of the 18th-century anatomist and gentleman-dissector John Hunter, and suggests that this, and others like it, played a critical role in establishing an acceptable view of dissection.

John Hunter painted by his friend Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1786
John Hunter painted by his friend Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1786

In February 2005, the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England re-opens to the public after a two-year closure for refurbishment. At the heart of the museum lies an extraordinary collection of over 3,500 anatomical and pathological preparations, specimens of natural history, fossils, paintings and drawings assembled by the Scottish-born surgeon and anatomist John Hunter (1728-93).

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