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 re-opened in 2021 after an extensive refurbishment and now has 11 permanent galleries charting the history of medicine from the Victorian period to the modern day.
The museum is well laid out with exhibits that include Disease Street, a replica of a street in a slum in Victorian Leeds; a recreated Victorian-era operating theatre from the pre-anaesthetic era; a gallery with displays about advances in public health during the Victorian era and a gallery that highlights the different medical professionals that care for us from the cradle to the grave.
There are also galleries that explain how advances in our understanding of disease have transformed medicine in the 20th and 21st centuries and a gallery highlighting the medical response to crisises such as natural disaster, pandemics and war.
Temporary exhibitions at the Thackray Museum of Medicine
The museum also hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions. Current and planned exhibitions include:
Behind the Microscope
The Behind the Microscope exhibition (until 29 February 2024) lets you explore the world of histopathologists and their use of microscopes. The exhibition is suitable for families with children aged seven and above and it lets visitors see real tissue samples and learn about various disease diagnosis methods through interactive displays.
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.