THE THACKRAY MUSEUM
Tough it was opened only in 1997 the Thackray Museum, located in Yorkshire, Leeds, is an award winning museum and a place were you can learn a lot of things about medicine and the role it plays in our lives. When I went there I was certainly not ready for what was I about to see; the museum practically reproduces any kind of atmosphere you can find in a hospital, good or bad. If you have a weak heart I recommend you visit only the happy parts of the museum like the children’s area, but, if you really want to see something interesting you should see the whole thing, but don’t say I didn’t warn you… [more]
The Thackray Museum
The Thackray Museum is one of the most unusual that I have visited. It traces the history of medicine and surgery over the years and it made me very grateful that I was born in the 20th century! The museum is housed in a red brick building on Beckett Street, next to St.James Hospital, and it used to be a workhouse for the poor. It opened as a museum in 1997.
It’s great for kids; they love it because there are lots of nasty smells, rats and bugs to savour. The exhibits give an authentic insight into living conditions in the past and the medical profession’s attempts to cope with disease. Leeds is typical of a north of England industrial city, dirty and smoky with great poverty and hardship amongst the working classes.
The back street slums of Leeds in Victorian times are presented and it’s not pretty. I particularly liked this part of the museum as I was born and was brought up in a back to back house in Leeds in a cobbled street with outside, communal toilets. There was no bathroom, garden or yard. My house and the street were kept very clean, thanks to the residents, but I could imagine what it might have been like, a hundred years before I was born.
The ‘Pain, Pus and Blood’ part shows what surgery meant before anaesthetics were invented. You can see that they don’t hold back in this museum and it’s not for the squeamish. You can see a mock up of an 1840 operating theatre. Sometimes, the illness must have been preferable to the operation.
Childbirth is also explored, perhaps not appropriate for anyone who happens to be pregnant. An 1890 birth is compared with a birth of today and you will marvel at the fortitude of our past generations.
After going round the exhibits, you may feel a little nauseous and in need of refreshment. The café provides well earned cups of tea and snacks. I like this museum because it goes all out to give visitors an experience they won’t forget and the reconstructions are supported by hard facts and information. I’ll never complain about going to the doctor again. [more]
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