The Science Museum currently holds approximately 900 human remains from many different countries and historical periods. They include skeletal material, mummies, artefacts incorporating remains and slides with human tissues.
The Museum is committed to the usefulness of exhibiting human remains and we currently have a number of remains on display within our galleries. We recognise that human remains have a unique status within museums, and we strive to ensure that they are cared for and displayed in a respectful and appropriate manner. We pay particular attention to the context in which remains are displayed.
We recognise that there are particular sensitivities associated with some human remains, especially those originating from communities where ongoing retention or use of remains is considered inappropriate. We work to ensure that such sensitivities are taken into consideration in any decisions relating to remains held by the Museum.
If you wish to avoid viewing human remains during your visit, please be aware that currently they can be found in the following galleries:
- Making the Modern World (Level 0)
- Energy Hall: James Watt and our World (Level 0)
- Wellcome Wing: Who Am I (Level 1)
- Journeys Through Medicine: Henry Wellcome's Legacy (Level 2)
- Mathematics: The Winton Gallery (Level 2)
Given the wide range of issues and sensitivities surrounding human remains, all questions relating to them (whether regarding display, access, or repatriation) are considered on a case-by-case basis.
The majority of human remains in the Science Museum's care form part of the Wellcome Trust collection, and remain the property of the Trust. These were collected for Henry Wellcome (the Trust's founder), in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Science Museum works closely with the Wellcome Trust when the remains in question are owned by the Trust.
Visit the Policies and Reports page on the Science Museum Group website to view or download the full Science Museum 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