I am writing from the Royal College of Physicians, London, to ask if you might be able to help us find some wet anatomical specimens for an upcoming exhibition we are planning on alcohol.
The exhibition, ‘‘This bewitching poison’: Alcohol and the Royal College of Physicians, London’, will explore the ways in which the Royal College of Physicians has become involved in debate over alcohol and its health effects since the foundation of the College in 1518. It will also look at the wider context of alcohol in society and how the health impact of drinking and the response of government are intertwined.
The focus will be on the UK and in particular London, and will include a range of objects from the RCP’s own collections including artworks, books and manuscripts from the library and archive, as well as loans from a number of London museums including the Wellcome Library, Museum of London and Arts Council Collection. These will include a number of contemporary and historical artworks and a commissioned film.
We are looking for the following specimens:
1) Gout specimen: ideally this would be a big toe, or alternatively any toe or finger, or even a complete foot or hand
2) Liver specimen with cirrhosis: ideally this would show advanced cirrhosis
Although we have displayed and cared for wet specimens on several occasions, we do not currently hold the appropriate licence for storing/displaying human remains under 100 years old, so any specimens would have to be older than this.
My enquiry at this stage is informal, just to see if you might have something suitable that you might be able to loan to us. If you do have a relevant specimen then our assistant curator will contact you to follow up discussions.
If you do not have anything suitable I would be very grateful if you could suggest other museums to try?
Many thanks, and best wishes,
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Sarah Backhouse | Heritage Volunteer
Library, archive and museum services department | Royal College of Physicians
11 St Andrews Place | Regent’s Park | London NW1 4LE