‘The Horn of Elizabeth Low’ by Gavin Francis

  Gavin Francis is an author, University of Edinburgh alumni, GP and all round friend of the museum. Here he looks at one of the more unusual items to be found in the occasionally bizarre collections of the Anatomical Museum: ‘There be many Unicorns, and consequently many Horns’ wrote Thomas Browne – physician, naturalist, polymath, wordsmith –…

Internship Conclusion

It’s my final day at the Anatomical Museum and I’m feeling quite sentimental. The nature of my internship –working with an unaccessioned collection for 10 consecutive weeks- means I feel protective over my perhaps unconventional plaster cast ‘children’. I thought I would use this blog post to reflect on the progress of the Phrenology project, rather than focus on research specific to the collection….

‘Male’ of Madagascar, ‘Gambian’ Woman and Chief Bokani

Following on from my previous post discussing Eustache Belin and the ‘New Zealander’, I am keen to showcase  more of the items due to be exhibited from August. In this post I will focus on the lives of three further individuals; Bokani, a Pygmy chief brought to the UK as a living exhibit, ‘Gambian Woman’ a cast mislabeled during…

Meet our Poet in Residence!

Hi, I’m Georgi, the Anatomical Museum’s inaugural Poet in Residence. In these uncertain times, my role has morphed into inaugural Poet in Virtual Residence, but formerly in person and now remotely, I have the fascinating task of exploring the museum collection and responding in poems. So, what brought me here? I’ve been drawn to both…

‘Phrenology – My Final Blog’ by Gaia Duberti

Hello everyone!  Before jumping into this blog post, let me send my best wishes to whoever is reading. These are challenging and unprecedented times, but I am positive we will come out of this stronger and more appreciative of what we have. A woman in evening dress, attended by a man; the woman representing the…

Phrenologists’ crush for female musicians

  Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient [Photo: Creative Commons] Last year I spent a large part of my summer researching the phrenology collection of the Anatomical Museum. One of my areas of research was to find out what “types” of women interested the phrenologists of the 19th century. Overall, the surviving female representation in the collection seems to…

The Mystery of George Combe’s Skull

Throughout this summer, I came to know George Combe very well: he was a pivotal figure in Phrenology and founder and spokesman of the first Phrenological Society in Edinburgh in 1820. Whilst undertaking my research into women’s role in Phrenology, I analysed his writings closely – from his System of Phrenology to The Constitution of Man, and…

‘The Hand Cast’ by Malcolm MacCallum, Curator

Each day we assess, codify, classify and research the precious objects in our care. Sometimes, amid all the specimen jars and models that line the shelves of our store, I come across something that reminds me that working with anatomy collections is less about the form-filling and measuring and more about us, human beings, all…

Phrenology – Time for a Feminist Perspective! by Gaia Duberti

Hello! My name is Gaia, and I am a postgraduate student in Collections and Curating Practices here at the University of Edinburgh. Thanks to the Henderson Trust scholarship, I am assisting the Anatomical Museum staff as well as conducting independent research about their Phrenology collection, to explore future exhibition topics. The Anatomical Museum possesses an…

Darwin and the Anatomical Museum on Halloween: what a treat!

On a daily basis the Anatomical Museum is used by medical students as an important and resource-rich study space, it is also a location for spot exams, academic meetings and conferences. This week we hosted a group of much younger visitors, like everyone else who comes to see us they were eager to engage with the…

Phrenology, Red Hair and Bias!

Our vacation scholar Ruby Hann is coming to the end of her time with us at the Anatomical Museum. In her final blog post on phrenology, Ruby speaks to the geneticist Professor Ian Jackson and asks if we can really tell anything about a person from their appearance? ”Whenever I mention that I’m currently researching…