The opening marks the tercentenary of William Hunter’s birth
The Hunterian Museum opened three new exhibitions, William Hunter and the Anatomy of the Modern Museum, Strange Foreign Bodies, and Rosengarten, to the public for free on 28 September.
The major new exhibition William Hunter and the Anatomy of the Modern Museum displays more than 400 items from the Hunterian’s founder William Hunters’ original collection, seen together collectively for the first time in over 150 years. The eclectic range of items includes rare books, paintings, minerals, and even an écorché (a sculpture of a flayed human corpse). In addition to the many rare items on display, the exhibition also endeavours to present “a balanced account of the circumstances that made a collection like Hunter’s possible and examines the means by which it was amassed.” The new exhibit also showcases an extremely rare collection of ancient Roman coins, a fully restored Maori cloak, and a 17th-century complete Chinese map of the world. Under lead curator Mungo Campbell, the exhibit is the outcome of five years of a collaborative research project between the Hunterian and the Yale Center for British Art.
Another new collection, Strange Foreign Bodies, is an assembly of films, prints, and sculptural works. They look back with a modern perspective on William Hunter’s collection through “the story of a woman who has turned into an octopus, the philosophical reflections of a heart transplant patient, and the simulated breathing of an animatronic medical mannequin. These ‘strange foreign bodies’ reflect the complexity of all human embodiment today.”
Finally, Rosengarten is a collaborative installation between sculpturist Anne Bevan and author Jane Galloway, two prominent Scottish artists. The collection “looks at the tools of birthing and powerfully reflects the human and tender emotions of mother and baby that run parallel to the hard and frequently interventive experiences associated with modern childbirth.”