The Superficial Muscles of the Thorax and the Axilla 1876 Wellcome Library

Surgery is a dangerous practice, requiring detailed knowledge of human anatomy. The best tool for learning has always been a real body. But finding enough ‘subjects’ for dissection has never been easy. In the early 19th century, a huge demand for fresh bodies fuelled the gruesome practice of body snatching. Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men explores the murky world of the resurrection men and the ambitious surgeon-anatomist they supplied with fresh corpses.

At the heart of the exhibition is an excavation undertaken in 2006 by Museum of London Archaeology which uncovered a forgotten burial ground, in use between 1825­ and 1841, at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. What they found was both extraordinary and unexpected. 

The excavation revealed some 262 burials, some containing just one person, but many containing a confusing mix of bones with extensive evidence of dissection, autopsy, amputation, bones wired for teaching, and animals dissected for comparative anatomy. It soon became clear that for a period of the 19th century the hospital bypassed the body snatchers and used their unclaimed deceased patients for dissection practice.

Now, 180 years later, you can uncover this intriguing story in Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men, a major new exhibition at the Museum of London. Bringing together human and animal remains, exquisite anatomical models and drawings, documents and original artefacts, the exhibition reveals the intimate relationship between surgeons pushing forward anatomical study and the ‘Resurrection men’ who supplied them; and the shadowy practices prompted by a growing demand for corpses.

You’ll discover the story of Bishop, Williams and May – London’s Burke and Hare – and find out how the excavation findings shed new light on the case of an alleged resurrectionist. You’ll also pore over unrivalled evidence of surgery and amputation – before anaesthetic – and of dissection, anatomical teaching and students practising their craft.

For tickets visit  Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men tickets or call 020 7001 9844
Adult £9 / Concession/child (aged 12+) £7 / Friends of the Museum FREE / Art Fund members £4.50. Groups of 10 or more people receive a 20% discount when booked in advance on 020 7001 9844.  Flexible family tickets are available at our information desk or on 020 7001 9844.