We hold human remains in the Science Museum Group Collection and display a small number in some of our galleries. These remains support research into and the public understanding of cultural and medical practices, biological processes, genetics, diet, disease and population movements over time.
Human remains have a unique status within museum collections. We treat them with the highest standards of care and respect, following national guidelines. Where we display human remains, we ensure they are displayed in an appropriate context with suitable interpretation. We hold a licence for public display from the Human Tissue Authority.
The Science Museum cares for 4,351 human remains from many different countries and historical periods. They include skeletal material, mummies, artefacts incorporating remains and slides containing human tissues. The largest group of human remains is 2,816 sets of gallstones, some of which are now on display in Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries.
1,029 of the human remains in our care are part of Sir Henry Wellcome’s Museum Collection, which has been on loan to us from Wellcome since the late 1970s. We manage these remains in conjunction with Wellcome Collection (including its museum and library) and its corresponding Care of Human Remains Policy.
Wellcome and the Science Museum Group are committed to being open and transparent about claims in relation to human remains in its collections, including claims for their return to relatives or communities of origin.
We know that some visitors wish to avoid viewing human remains. Currently, human remains can be seen in the following galleries:
- Making the Modern World (Level 0)
- Energy Hall: James Watt and our World (Level 0)
- Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries (Level 1)
- Wellcome Wing: Who Am I (Level 1)
- Mathematics: The Winton Gallery (Level 2)
We consider all questions relating to the human remains in our care on a case-by-case basis, which ensures we are able to respond to specific cultural sensitivities.
Visit the Policies and Reports page on the Science Museum Group website to view or download the full Science Museum Group human remains policy and Science Museum Group human remains list. You will find them both under the Collections Policies tab. Alternatively, download them directly from the sidebar on this page.
For more information on human remains in the Science Museum, email us.