Unruly bodies and minds in the medical museum

Our Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) in the School of Museum Studies is leading on Exceptional and Extraordinary, a collaborative project with experts in medical history, disability and museums including Tony Heaton, SHAPE and Katherine Ott, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Following Mat Fraser’s award-winning commission Cabinet of Curiosities that toured UK museums in 2015, Exceptional & Extraordinary invited four artists – dance company Deaf Men Dancing led by choreographer Mark Smith, film-maker David Hevey, comedian Francesca Martinez, artist and playwright Julie McNamara – to explore behind the scenes of eight of the UK’s most renowned museums with medical collections - the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS); the Science Museum; the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds; the Royal London Hospital Museum and Archives; Surgeons’ Hall Museums at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; Museum of the Mind; and Langdon Down Museum of Learning Disability.

Each artist has produced provocative new work that examines our attitudes towards difference and stimulates debate around the implications of a society that values some lives more than others.