Friday, February 25, 2011

London - Hunterian Museum and Roald Dahl's Twisted Tales in the Lyric

Although I spent quite a lot of time in London, I've never been to the Hunterian Museum before.

I should have gone there, it was an astonishingly interesting museum and overall a very positive experience. William and John Hunter were both Scottish medical men, one (William) an anatomist and obstetritian and the other (John) a surgeon and a scientist. Not only did John Hunter collect rare animal species and dissected them, he was also keen to collect pathological samples which he also prepared for his scientific studies. For this, he had a copper pot in an underground house where he cooked animals an men alike if he wanted their bones or whole skeletons. It was here where he cooked the body of Charles Byrne, the Irish Giant.
Knowing that in the 18th century bodies were sold to surgeons, Byrne, the nearly 8 foot tall young man paid a lot in his life for a funeral on sea but Hunter obviously outbid the undertaker and obtained the body of the 'giant' since you can see his impressive skeleton on display in the museum:

The Hunter brothers collected everything from Tasmanian Tigers to Dodo Skeletons

from H.E. Strickland, The Dodo and its Kindred, 1848
 from American mastodon fossils to fossilized shark teeth of the Megalodon shark, who was 60 feet in length
from gall and bladder stones to skulls with Paget's disease or syphillitic skulls

You can also see Newton's death mask, the so-called Hey's saw for trephanations of skulls
but one of the most impressive objects were the Evelyn tables, the oldest European anatomical preparations from 17th century Padua. Here the artery system:
After all these grim stories about death and body snatching an evening with 'Twisted Tales' from Roald Dahl seemed a fitting end for this day. The Lyric theatre in Hammersmith adapted some tales (mostly known from a tv series called 'Tales of the Unexpected') for the stage and it was a very enjoyable performance even though a bit short. You would have wished for an additional story or some of them a bit more detailed. In this scene here, a young American bet his little finger against a cadillac.

1 comment:

  1. was that not a scene from some strange tarantino film? no, not the body snatching but the theatre play...