Museum of London exhibition: Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men

2 Apr


Given my taste for the macabre and having read rave reviews of this exhibition,  a friend and I made our way along to the Museum of London over the Easter weekend.  I had never been to the Museum of London, situated on London Wall, despite it being pretty darn close to where I work so I was excited to explore. 

The exhibition was detailing the history of grave-robbers who would steal freshly buried corpses to sell to surgeons.  Victorian England suffered from a shortage of bodies on which surgeons could learn more about the human anatomy thus grave-robbing became a profitable venture, to the point where grave-robbers even resorted to murder to meet this demand.  The exhibition had grisly wax models of dissected bodies and there was a statue of a convicted murderer who had been flayed and cast in wax, which was both amazing and thoroughly disturbing.  I learnt about the Anatomy Act which was passed that largely put an end to the gory business of burking (grave-robbing) although many argued that this simply meant that the more vulnerable in society would be those who would end up donating their bodies to further the cause of science.  What really struck me, apart from all the grisly stuff which I have worryingly become desensitised to, was the impact religion had on people’s attitudes towards the advancement of science.  Indeed, there was a little video that exhibited a cross-section of peoples’ attitudes  today towards donating organs and religion seemed to be the main thing that held people back as people were concerned they would not be ‘whole’ come Judgement day.  As a staunch atheist, it shocked me that with all the technological innovations that science has brought us, people are still unwilling to donate their organs to science in this modern age.

Overall, informative and grisly in just the right amount.  However, perhaps for the tourists, the videos seemed to be full of exaggerated cockney accents and I would have perhaps liked to have learnt more about the daily life of student surgeons during the Victorian era in comparison with how they would learn about dissection today.


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