Surgeons' Hall Museums

The Wohl Pathology Museums at Surgeons' Hall Museums
baby changing facilities icon Shop icon Library icon Study area icon Wheelchair access icon

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.
Surgeons' Hall Museums at Night

Museums at Night - Printmaking Workshop

  • 28 October 2016 12:30-3:30pm

Anatomical engravings and atlases were used for teaching and the sharing of information. This drop-in workshop will highlight items from the Collection held by the Library at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Visitors will have the opportunity to create their own anatomically inspired prints to take home with them.

Suitable for

  • 7-10
  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 11-13
  • 18+


Drop-in workshop included in Museum admission cost. £6-adults, £3.50 concessions (NHS staff with ID, Students with ID, Over 60's & under 16's)

Surgeons' Hall Museums at Night

Preserving the Flesh: The Art of Displaying Anatomical Specimens

  • 28 October 2016 5-6pm, 6:30-7:30pm
Sorry, fully booked


As part of Museums at Night, we are proud to present our first ever preservation workshop. This adult only workshop will give you the chance to learn about the techniques involved in preserving specimens. You will then get the chance to put knowledge into practice and take home your own preserved lamb's heart in a presentation jar. The ticket includes access to the Museums, which are open until 8pm.

This workshop will be led by the Museums' Human Remains Conservator, Cat Irving.

Suitable for

  • 18+


Adults £9.50
Concessions £7 (these include students with ID, NHS staff with ID and Over 60's)


Surgeons' Hall Museums at Night

Concertina Book Making Workshop with Susie Wilson

  • 29 October 2016 10am-2pm

Surgeons' Hall welcomes Susie Wilson back to the Museums this October as part of Museums at Night. This family friendly workshop will look at ways of designing and making a concertina book. Drawings will be made using mixed media techniques inspired by the museum collections. Printmaking, drawing and collage will be combined to create unique folded books with pockets and places to hold keepsakes.

This workshop is suitable for all ages and abilities.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


£8 adults
£6 concessions (these include students with ID, NHS staff with ID, Over 60's and under 16's)


Surgeons' Hall Museums at Night

Breaking the Heart: Dissection Workshop For Adults

  • 29 October 2016 4:30-5:30pm, 6:30-7:30pm


This workshop is open to all over 18, and you don't need prior knowledge of medicine to try your hand at dissection. The class takes a hands-on look at the structure and function of the mammalian heart. Using a pig heart, participants will dissect out the path of the blood revealing the chambers and their associated vessels and valves. The dissection will be led by Professor Ken Donaldson and Museum Learning Officer Anna Downie who will discuss the function of each intricate part of the heart and what happens when it goes wrong.

Suitable for

  • 18+


£9.50 adults
£7 concessions (these include students with ID, NHS staff with ID & Over 60's)


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.