This new temporary exhibition, the largest presented by the Hunterian Museum explores the contexts in which Dr William Hunter formed his collections and the unique position they occupy in the development of museums as we know them today.
For the first time in 150 years, visitors will be able to see the scale and quality of Hunter’s collections all in one place reuniting paintings, ethnographic objects, anatomical and natural history preparations and items from Hunter’s library and great coin collections.
The exhibition is arranged over ten rooms, largely in chronological order. Very low light levels were required and the gallery has been painted dark grey to help soak up the light. However, very bright blue and yellow have been introduced in case interiors and selected walls to bring the objects to life. Text has been kept to a minimum, almost solely confined to room titles and introductions to themes. In order to ensure that the objects are at the heart of the visitor experience without distraction, there are no object labels, only numbers, visitors use free guidebooks to navigate their way through the exhibition and engage with the collection and the stories behind the objects.
William Hunter was a leading teacher of anatomy and obstetrician to the royal family in London during the middle of the 17th century and William Hunter and the Anatomy of the Modern Museum marks the William Hunter Tercentenary – 300 years since the birth of the Hunterian founder (1718-1783). As a contemporary man of culture he was also a great collector of art and coins in an age of rapidly developing taxonomy, the classification and ordering of the natural world. Hunter left his great anatomy and art collections to his alma mater, Glasgow University, which formed the core of the Hunterian Museum.
William Hunter and the Anatomy of the Modern Museum runs until 6 January 2019 at the Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow and admission is free.