Thackray Medical Museum

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Thackray Medical Museum

Coordinates: 53°48′29″N 1°31′06″W / 53.80806°N 1.51833°W / 53.80806; -1.51833 The Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, is a museum of the history of medicine adjacent to St James's Hospital. Since it opened in 1997 it has won "Museum of the Year" and other awards.[citation needed]

The building is a Grade II listed building, the former Leeds Union Workhouse, built in 1858 to accommodate 784 paupers.[1] By the end of the 19th century, the buildings had become largely used for medical care of the poor, rather than workhouse and training. During the First World War it was called the East Leeds War Hospital, caring for armed services personnel.[1]

Highlights include Leeds 1842: Life in Victorian Leeds: visitors walk through a reproduction of slum streets complete with authentic sights, sounds and smells and are invited to follow the lives, ailments and treatments of eight Victorian characters, making the choices that determine their survival amongst the rats, fleas and bedbugs. Pain, Pus and Blood describes surgery before anaesthesia, and how pain relief progressed and Having a Baby focuses on developments in safety for childbirth. Hannah Dyson's Ordeal is a video reconstruction of 1842 surgery, before anaesthetics were in use: visitors watch as a surgeon, his assistant and a group of trainee doctors prepare for Hannah Dyson's operation - the amputation of her leg after it was crushed in a mill accident. (The actual operation is not seen in the reconstruction.) The LifeZone! is an interactive children's gallery, looking at how the human body works, with a smaller room for the under-fives. The 'Recovery?' Gallery explores treatment of veterans of warfare, looking at the First World War and modern conflict medicine. There is a temporary exhibition gallery which changes annually.[2]

The Thackray Medical Museum houses a collection of over 47,000 objects from medical history which date from Roman times to the present day. The museum also cares for a collection of historical medical trade literature, which can be accessed by visitors in the museum's Library and Resource Centre by appointment. Highlights in the collection include the Wilkinson English Delftware apothecary jar display, an impressive display of early pharmaceutical jars which are all on permanent display. Also on display is Prince Albert's personal medicine chest and a selection of eighteenth and nineteenth century surgical equipment including amputation knives, saws and trepanning instruments. [3]

The Thackray Medical Museum featured in Most Haunted on 1 November 2015 on Really (TV channel).[4]


  1. ^ a b "St James's University Hospital". Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Retrieved 21 June 2008. 
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  4. ^ "Most Haunted | UKTV Play". Retrieved 26 October 2015. 

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