NMS - Anatomy: A Matter of Death and Life

2nd July 2022 10:00 am

Explore the history of anatomical study, from artistic explorations by Leonardo da Vinci to the Burke and Hare murders.

This exhibition will look at the social and medical history surrounding the practice of dissection. It will trace the relationship between anatomy, its teaching and cultural context and the bodies that were dissected. Looking at Edinburgh’s role as an international centre for medical study, the exhibition will offer insight into the links between science and crime in the early 19th century.

You will find out more about the role anatomy played in the Enlightenment. In the 18th century, Edinburgh developed into the leading centre for medical teaching in the UK, and the demand for bodies to dissect and study vastly outstripped legitimate supply. The acquisition of bodies was intertwined with poverty and crime, with grave-robbing (stealing unprotected bodies for dissection) becoming a common practice.

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