Thackray Uncovered

Back in December I was invited to be a part of Thackray Uncovered, an exciting new project working with Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds.

Thackray Medical Museum is a museum of the history of medicine housed in the former Leeds Union Workhouse, on the site of St James’s University Hospital.

The museum cares for over 70,0000 objects, books and archival records relating to the history of medicine. Historic instrumentation makes up the bulk of artefacts in the museum collection.

Working alongside the curatorial team at the museum, I will be researching the collection and library. I will then select an object to respond to which will be displayed alongside my artwork in the museum. Last week I met with the curators and librarian to get started on the project and find out more about the museum and the collection.

We took a tour of the museum with Catherine, the assistant curator which was a great opportunity to get an insight into the exhibits and find out more about the history of the museum. I then met with the Curator Lauren and was given an induction on object handling.

British Army Issue Bandage
British Army Issue Bandage

This British Army issue bandage was a fascinating insight into first aid on the front line, its unique woven structure and absorbent pad help to stop bleeding and create a tourniquet. This bandage has been on a tour of Afghanistan and is still in excellent condition, it was donated to the museum by a soldier. You can find out more about the relationship between medicine and conflict at the museum in their exhibition Recovery? From Flanders to Afghanistan.

My next induction was in the library with Alan the librarian, he is extremely knowledgeable about the collection and library so it was fascinating to chat to him. The library has around 16,000 books, the oldest dating back to 1555. Alongside this is a collection of trade catalogues.

Thackray Library
Thackray Library

As well as offering an insight into medicine throughout history the books themselves are beautiful objects.

Detail of Trade Catalogues
Detail of Trade Catalogues

Alan showed e his highlights of the collection and library, all of which can be visited by the public. You can find out more information about the library here.

My final visit was to the collection store with Catherine, it is a fascinating place which houses the vast collection of surgical equipment, medical machinery and so much more. Some of the objects are not for the faint hearted but I was intrigued by the whole collection.

The Collection Store
The Collection Store
Detail of Label in the Collection Store
Detail of Label in the Collection Store

There are so many drawers and shelves full of objects, I can’t wait to explore and select my object. My favourite object from my induction were these scissors which are beautifully made and resemble my own embroidery scissors.

Scissors from the Collection
Scissors from the Collection

Over the next few weeks I will be visiting the museum to select my object and do some research which I will be blogging about regularly.

 

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