The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh's museum to get £2.7m revamp

Surgeons' Hall Museum It will be the first time the building has been radically altered since 1908

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The UK's largest and most historic collection of surgical pathology artefacts is to be given a new lease of life following a £2.7m grant.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has been awarded the Heritage Lottery Fund grant to extend and redevelop its Surgeons' Hall Museum.

Its exhibits include a pocket book made from the skin of the infamous murderer William Burke.

Open to the public since 1832, it is Scotland's oldest medical museum.

The museum charts the transition of medicine from witchcraft through to science.

It includes in its archive a letter from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle crediting Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Fellow, Dr Joseph Bell, as the main inspiration for the character of Sherlock Holmes.

The Lister project - named after Joseph Lister, who improved the safety of surgery by promoting the use of antiseptic - will transform Surgeons' Hall Museum into a modern museum.

It will be the first time the building has been radically altered since 1908, and the funding will allow redevelopment work to create new displays and galleries, doubling the number of items which can be put on display and showcasing innovative audiovisual and interactive elements.

Dissecting theatre

The Playfair-designed building will also be conserved and transformed with a new glass atrium.

The revamped museum will also have a 17th century dissecting theatre and an education suite.

Ian Ritchie, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh's president, said: "We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has chosen to support this exciting and important project.

"The promotion of patient safety and care has been at the heart of our college and its activities for over 500 years, inspiring advances in our profession and across healthcare.

"Our museum and Library lie at the core of this heritage, through them we are able to highlight the achievements of the past, educate surgeons and the public about the development of our profession and inspire generations of future surgeons."

Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: "The Lister project will take the Surgeons' Hall Museum to a world-class level commensurate with its outstanding collections.

"Scotland's pioneering history of surgery will soon be a source of education and inspiration for visitors from home and abroad while making an important contribution to our tourist economy."

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