Taking an incredible journey through the history of medicine, the Thackray Medical Museum is a completely unique experience. With 9 interactive galleries, the fascinating exhibitions and collections take you on an incredible journey through historical techniques and advancements in medicine. From watching a surgery restaging from 1823 to walking through Victorian street reconstruction, Thackray Medical Museum transports you into the heart of medical history.
This week, Quingo Scooters is in Leeds to learn all about the history of medicine. Housed in an impressive Victorian building, the history of medical technology is really brought to life at this award-winning venue and is a must for anyone interested in medicine, science or history. Let’s take a look at what’s on…
- Health choices: Ever wondered what medicines were available to people living in Victorian times? This exhibition explores exactly that. With real cures being rare at the time, you’ll see some of the more unconventional options available, such as the many ways sea water was used.
Must see: The personal medicine chest of Prince Albert. This incredible piece of history shows how the nobility of the time were treated, how they stored their medicine and the unorthodox techniques used. You’ll be amazed at how far medicine has advanced since!
- Wilkinson Apothecary Gallery: With over 600 on display, The Wilkinson Apothecary Gallery houses the Thackray Medical Museum’s unique collection of apothecary jars. This is the largest collection of its type in the world, spanning several centuries, from the 1500s to the 1800s. With 400 English examples and 200 from Italy and other countries, jars were used by pharmacists to store medicines. These beautiful jars are impressive works of art.
- Hannah Dyson’s Ordeal: This galley raises the important question: would you rather go to the hospital now or in Victorian times? You’ll definitely make up your mind in this retelling of the true story of 11-year-old Hannah Dyson. After her leg was crushed by machinery at a mill where she worked in 1823, the surgeons fought to save her life. This display walks you through what happened to her, with realistic audio-visual displays highlighting the horror of surgery at this time. This isn’t for the faint hearted!
- Pain, pus and blood: This exhibition brings to life the gruesome realities of surgery in this era to life. Providing a captivating insight into the history of medical procedures, this gallery highlights the truly incredible advances in surgical techniques that have been achieved since.
- Life Zone!: Designed for younger guests, the fun, educational and interactive experience is a great learning tool. Whether they want to follow the progress of a pea through the intestines, discover how high they can jump, or even see how long human intestines are, all their medical questions will be answered here.
- Having a baby: How much has the process of having a baby changed throughout the years? This exhibition draws on real-life stories to explore the history of pregnancy and giving birth, from the 1890s to the present day. Showing the development of pain relief, the rising need for qualifications and improving survival rates for both women and children. Anyone interested in childbirth will love this insight.
- Leeds 1842: Transporting guests back to 1842, this exhibition introduces the sights, sounds and smells of a Victorian street in the city. This interactive experience allows you to talk to characters living in this authentically recreated street. You can explore and discover what their homes are like, what’s causing their ailments and what can be done to help cure them.
Must see: The Disease in Retreat section. Serving as the perfect antidote to the disease-ridden Victorian street, this section offers a view into how science has tackled these illnesses over the years. You’ll experience an interesting look at the revolution in treatment and medical practice. The 19th century notions of health are particularly interesting contrasts to our modern-day understanding. This is a must for all interested in medical and scientific history!
- New Frontiers of Surgery: Starting in the mid-1800s, you’ll travel through a showcase of surgical procedures in this enthralling gallery. The star of this exhibition is the introduction of general anaesthetic and antiseptics, highlighting how this paved the way for modern day procedures such as organ transplants.
- Medicine and History Lecture Series: Those with an interest in all things medical will love this lecture series. A highly popular series of talks and discussions look at a wide range of topics and factors that have influenced changes in medicine and health. Whether you’re a trained medical professional or have little knowledge of the subject matter, these fascinating talks are great learning experiences for all. Each lecture presents different and entertaining speakers. A full schedule can be found here.
- Paranormal Investigations: Do you believe in ghosts? If so, the Thackray Medical Museum is the place for you. Reputedly one of the most haunted buildings in Leeds, the museum is a popular venue for professional ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts alike. Whether you’re a believer or a sceptic, the Ghost Nights at Thackray are interesting insights into the paranormal.
Where to eat and drink
The Thackray Medical Museum has a café onsite that offers a range of food and drinks. Their menu includes a selection of tasty and homemade options, such as seasonal soup, made to order sandwiches, paninis and jacket potatoes with a variety of fillings. On weekdays, you can even find two hot daily specials! If you’re in a hurry, you can pre-order food to be ready at a time to suit you. The café also offers a traditional afternoon tea with a range of freshly made sandwiches and cakes.
What’s more, Leeds NHS staff receive a 10% discount in the café by simply showing their badge at the till. The menu and opening times for the café can be found here.
Opening times and prices
The Thackray Medical Museum is open every day from 10am to 5pm, with last admissions at 4.15pm. On every third Thursday of the month, the museum offers late night opening until 8.30pm, with last admissions at 7.45pm. Prices vary per person, you can view the price list here.
Located next to St James’s University Hospital in Leeds, the museum is 2 miles from the city centre and is accessible by all major forms of public transport. If you’re travelling by car, follow the signs for York (A64) and then follow the brown tourist signs for the Thackray Medical Museum. There is on-site Blue Badge parking. The area is also serviced by frequent bus services. More information on getting there can be found here.
Thackray Medical Museum is accessible to all guests. There is plenty of seating throughout the attraction, with lifts to all floors. Throughout the venue, accessible toilets can be found. Free Blue Badge parking is available at the museum’s on-site car park, as well as additional Blue Badge parking at the multi-storey on Beckett Street. More information can be found here.
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