Surgeons' Hall Museums

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Surgeons’ Hall Museums (SHM), part of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, houses one of the largest and most historic collections of artefacts charting the history and development of surgery. The collections include surgical instruments and artworks and one of the largest collections of anatomical specimens in the world. These specimens are displayed in the Wohl Pathology Museum, which is located within the iconic building designed by William Playfair in 1832.

All of the exhibits which have made SHM world-famous will be back on display: including a pocket book made from the skin of the infamous murderer, William Burke; and exhibits relating to Dr Joseph Bell, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s teacher and main inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, the highlight of which is a letter from the author crediting his mentor as such.

The reopened SHM, whose transformation has been supported by a £2.7m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will also feature even more interactive and display exhibits, which will help visitors from all around the world discover the stories and breakthroughs that have shaped modern surgical practice.

Venue Type:

Museum, Heritage site

Opening hours

7 days a week 10am-5pm

Admission charges

£6 Adults. £3.50 Concessions.


  • International Council of Museums
  • Museums Association

Additional info

Toilets - There are toilets in the basement. All toilets are fully accessible.

Restaurants and cafés - The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is home to Café 1505 and the Ten Hill Place Hotel & Wine Bar.

Baby Changing - Baby changing facilities are in the basement floor.

The museums contain objects in 9 main categories: anatomical and pathological specimens; casts and models; histological preparations; furniture; paintings and other works of art; photographic prints and slides; voice, video and other recordings; surgical and other instruments; and miscellaneous items.

Collection details

Medicine, Weapons and War

Key artists and exhibits

  • Charles Bell
  • Joseph Lister
  • Robert Liston
  • Robert Knox
  • Burke and Hare
  • James Young Simpson
  • William Playfair
  • William Henry Playfair
Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Dolly at 20 logo

Coming of Age - The Legacy of Dolly at 20

  • 1 September 2016 From 5:30pm

Spend an evening at Surgeons' Hall with Professor Sir Ian Wilmut (University of Edinburgh), Professor Angelika Schnieke (Technical University Munich) and Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Shinya Yamanaka (Kyoto University) as they discuss the impact that the birth of Dolly the Sheep had on science. Discover how Dolly still inspires research around the world today and put your questions to our prestigious panel. Take the opportunity to find out about the fascinating research going on right here in Edinburgh at our drinks reception following the discussion.

Tickets include access to the Museums from 5.30pm with the talk commencing at 7pm.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Edinburgh Sketcher Pathology Museum

Drawing the Collection with Edinburgh Sketcher

  • 19 September 2016 10:30am-1pm, 2-4:30pm

For the September Bank Holiday, join Edinburgh Sketcher to sketch the fantastic collections of Surgeons' Hall Museums at The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh Sketcher is famous for his distinctive illustrations of Scotland's beautiful capital using a wide range of mediums including ink, watercolour, pencil, oil paint, charcoal and collage. Don't miss out on this is a unique opportunity to learn from one of Edinburgh's very best illustrators in this intimate class.

Thanks to feedback we recieved we have increased our drawing classes to two and a half hours each.

Suitable for

  • Any age


£6 adult; £3.50 concession rate


Surgeons' Hall Museums
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
18 Nicolson Street


Museum Homepage




0131 527 1711

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.