The excellent Thackray Museum of Medicine (formerly the Thackray Medical Museum) in Leeds has interesting displays focusing on the history of medicine. The museum is housed in the former Leeds Union Workhouse, which was built in 1858 and has been primarily a medical facility for the poor before becoming the East Leeds War Hospital during the First World War.
What to see at the Thackray Museum of Medicine
The museum has over 50,000 objects in its collection and an interesting range of exhibits in its permanent galleries plus a temporary exhibition gallery that changes each year.
The museum’s exhibition galleries include:
- 1842 Street, a recreated street in a Victorian-era Leeds slum with exhibits showing how people in Victorian times dealt with health and medical issues;
- Pain, Pus and Blood, which explores the world of surgery before the discovery of anaesthetics;
- The Surgery gallery, which highlights the development of modern surgical techniques;
- Medicine and Conflict, which has exhibits showing how medical treatment for wounded soldiers has changed since the First World War; and
- LifeZone! An interactive exhibition space aimed at showing children how the human body works including a walk-through digestive system.
Temporary exhibitions at the Thackray Museum of Medicine
The museum also hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions. Current and planned exhibitions include:
Can Robots Care?
This exhibition (until 16 October 2022) examines the future of robots in medicine with displays that look at the potential uses, benefits and risks of medical care robots.
Visiting the Thackray Museum of Medicine
The museum is near St James University Hospital, which is around 2.4km (1.5 miles) north of central Leeds and you can walk into the city centre in around 30 minutes.
Entry is a relatively pricey £11.95 but tickets are valid for 12 months and you can revisit for no additional charge during this period. Admission is also free if you have a valid National Art Pass.
If you enjoyed your visit to the Thackray Museum of Medicine, you may also want to visit the Florence Nightingale Museum, the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum, the Old Operating Theatre, the Royal London Hospital Museum and the Wellcome Collection (all in London).
You should allow around 2–3 hours to visit this museum.