Surgeons' Hall Museums
The award winning Museums are open to the public, 7 days a week, 10am to 5pm and are home to one of the largest and most historic pathology collections in the United Kingdom.
Surgeons’ Hall Museums reopened in 2015 after a major £4.4 million Heritage Lottery Funded redevelopment project. As one of the oldest Museums in Scotland, the collections grew from 1699 after 'natural and artificial curiosities' were publically sought, with the Playfair Building opening in 1832 to house the Barclay and Bell collections. Whilst the Museums were initially established as a medical teaching resource, all are now welcome to visit.
Museum, Heritage site
7 days a week 10am-5pm.
£7.50 Adults. £4 Concessions.
- International Council of Museums
- Museums Association
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.
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
A Design For Life
- 20 April 2019 — 31 March 2020 *on now
Comparative anatomy is the study of similarities and differences in the anatomy of different species of animals, including humans.
From ancient times, anatomists have dissected animals to gain a better understanding of the body. Comparing the similarities and differences between the internal anatomy of humans and other animals has proved a fertile area of study in helping us understand the anatomy and interconnectedness of all living things.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, comparative anatomy was seen as a central part of medical education and training. When Surgeons' Hall opened in 1832, an entire room within the museum was devoted to a large collection of zoological skeletons and specimens, donated by well-known Scottish Comparative Anatomist John Barclay.
This new exhibition explores the history of this fascinating subject and how integral it was to the beginnings of Surgeons' Hall Museums.
The exhibition will run until Easter 2020.
£7.50 for adults
£4 for concessions (under 16's, students, 60+, NHS staff and JSA)
No additional charge for the temporary exhibition.
Blood and Guts: The Twists and Turns of Edinburgh's Medical History
- 20 — 21 July 2019 2-3:10pm
- 27 — 28 July 2019 2-3:10pm
- 3 — 4 August 2019 2-3:10pm
- 10 — 11 August 2019 2-3:10pm
- 17 — 18 August 2019 2-3:10pm
- 24 — 25 August 2019 2-3:10pm
- 31 August — 1 September 2019
- 7 — 8 September 2019 2-3:10pm
- 14 — 15 September 2019 2-3:10pm
- 21 — 22 September 2019 2-3:10pm
- 28 — 29 September 2019 2-3:10pm
- 5 — 6 October 2019 2-3:10pm
- 12 — 13 October 2019 2-3:10pm
- 19 — 20 October 2019 2-3:10pm
Join Surgeons Hall Museums on their 5* walking tour through Edinburgh’s old town.
We will take you through the highs and lows of Edinburgh’s world renowned medical history. Discover the intrigues, rivalries and dedication to the cause as our guide leads you through the sites where anatomists, surgeons and physicians worked, operated and squabbled in the quest for medical advancement.
Drawn from the archives at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh you will hear little known accounts of iconic writers, chloroform tea parties, pioneering women, grave robbing and of course Britain’s first serial killers the infamous Burke and Hare.
Hear tales of old Edinburgh, disease, dissection and curious methods of treatment.
Tours will last approximately 70mins and include free museum access from 10am-5pm on the day of your tour.
Meeting Point: Please arrive in good time for you tour. Your guide will meet you at the entrance to Surgeons Hall Museums (in front of the hand sculpture)
Please note that this is a walking tour, which will be partially outdoors. Please dress accordingly. Not all the sites we visit are dog friendly and therefore we admit assistance dogs only.
Age Guidance: Age 10+
“The Blood & Guts tour was a fantastic afternoon walking around some of Edinburgh's fascinating yet dark and macabre historical landmarks, brought to life by a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide! We did the tour as a couple, but would highly recommend to all ages.” *****
“Had a great time on @surgeonshall ‘Blood and Guts’ walking tour around Edinburgh! Our guide Eliza was very knowledgeable so definitely check it out if you get the chance!”
Surgeons' Hall Museums
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
18 Nicolson Street