141 Beckett Street, Leeds LS9 7LN
Located right next to St James’s University Hospital, north east of Leeds city centre, Thackray Medical Museum uses interactive displays to tell the story of medicine from Victorian operating theatres to modern surgery.
It is an award-winning museum. In 1998 the Thackray Medical Museum won “Museum of the Year”. In 2004 in won the “Excellence in England Small Tourist Attraction of the Year” and “Sandford Award for Heritage Education”.
The building was once the Leeds Union Workhouse, opened in 1861 to accommodate 784 paupers. By the end of the 19th century, the buildings had become largely used for medical care of the poor, rather than workhouse and training. By the 1990s, it was considered unfit for modern medicine, but as a Grade II listed building, it couldn’t be demolished. So, the museum was born.
The medical museum strives to create an immersive historical experience. The 1842 Street exhibit makes use of all your senses (especially smell!) so you can experience what it was really like to live and die in Victorian times.
From there, the museum takes you forward through time, from one medical innovation to the next. It revels in the gore of surgery, explores the medical necessities of treating World War I soldiers, then takes you into the modern worked of anaesthetics, transplants and keyhole surgery.
The museum also gets hand-on in the LifeZone! exhibit. Here, children are encouraged to explore and understand their own bodies with interactive tests and games.
The museum also offers venue hire for celebration or conferences. The conference suite reflects the museum collections, providing an interesting talking point for delegates and guests.
As of May 2019 the museum galleries, cafe and gift shop are closed for a £4m refurbishment. Once complete, visitors will be able to enjoy the all-new facilities.