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School Visits to Anatomy: A Matter of Death and Life

Visit our Anatomy: A Matter of Death and Life temporary exhibition with your class. Bookings are now open.

Introduction to the exhibition

Explore the history of anatomical study, from artistic explorations by Leonardo da Vinci to the Burke and Hare murders, in this major exhibition. 

Charting 500 years of medical exploration, the exhibition considers the social and medical history surrounding the practice of dissection, Edinburgh’s role as an international centre for medical study, and the links between science and crime in the early 19th century.  

History and science collide in this fascinating story. See exquisite early examples of anatomical art, a full-body papier-mâché model produced in the workshops of pioneering 19th century model maker Louis Auzoux, and William Burke’s skeleton and handwritten confession.  

Exhibition information


National Museum of Scotland


Open to all ages, most suitable for S1-S6 pupils



Advice to Teachers/Educators:

 Teachers/educators are advised that this exhibition  contains some sensitive material. This includes graphic images and models of dissected human bodies and body parts, and a human skeleton. If you would like more information about this content before booking a visit for your group please contact 


18th Aug – 30th Oct 2022 


10:30-12:00, 12:15-13:45, 14:00-15:30


Pupils under 16 – free 

Pupils over 16 - £3 per pupil 

Adults – One free adult ticket for every five pupils. Additional adults are charged at £10 



How to book:

Bookings open Monday 8 August 2022. 

Book now

Complete the booking form to request an exhibition visit.

Request a visit

Subject and Curriculum links

S1 and S2 English

The exhibition provides a rich historical context for students reading Fleshmarket by Nicola Morgan. It explores the history of anatomy teaching in Edinburgh in the 18th and early 19th century, and the challenges of sourcing bodies for dissection. It also tells the story of the Burke and Hare murders against this background. 

Advanced Higher History

The exhibition explores the role of the city of Edinburgh as a centre of Enlightenment thinking and learning, offering context for the topic Scotland: From the Treaty of Union to the Enlightenment, 1707–1815.    

Higher and Advanced Higher Art

This exhibition presents an opportunity to explore the contribution made by artists to the development and communication of anatomical knowledge. It includes anatomical sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci made from dissections that he carried out himself, and the highly influential, 16th-century publication On the Fabric of the Human Body by Andreas Vesalius 

On the day

Practical Information

Practical information for the exhibition visit

  • In line with Scottish Government guidelines, face coverings recommended for visitors aged 12 and over unless exempt. Please follow our safety guidelines for visiting the museum, including keeping your distance from others and regularly washing your hands.
  • Time slots for visiting the exhibition are 90 minutes, unless otherwise stated on your booking. Please adhere to your time slot. Pupils should be split into groups of 15 plus adults and each group taken into the exhibition in 45 minute intervals. 
  • The exhibition has background music, sound, and moving images throughout. 

During you visit

Explore our galleries before or after your visit to the exhibition for a range of relevant objects:

  • Discover more Scottish history from the time periods covered in the exhibition in our Scotland Transformed, Industry and Empire and Scotland: A changing Nation galleries (Levels 3-6).
  • Explore the history of medical science in the Technology By Design and Enquire galleries (Levels 3 and 5).
  • Learn more about a variety of Art and Design topics in our Making and Creating, Design for Living and Art of Living galleries (Levels 3 and 5).

Extend Your Day

Surgeons Hall Museum, which is five minutes from the National Museum of Scotland, offer a variety of workshops which can also be paired with a visit to the exhibition. 

Terms and Conditions

Terms of booking

  • Scottish State schools should raise a Purchase Order through their Local Authority procurement system for the maximum cost of charged sessions.
  • Purchase Order numbers should be notified to at least 7 days in advance of the visit.
  • For sessions charged per pupil, schools will be charged for the number of pupils booked, unless 10 days advance notice of change in numbers is notified to

Cancellation Policy

  • National Museums Scotland reserve the right to charge a fee for short notice cancellations or no-shows.
  • Bookings cancelled less than 3 weeks prior to the visit may incur an administration fee of 50% of the value of chargeable events.
  • Bookings cancelled less than 2 weeks prior to the visit may incur an administration fee of 100% of the value of chargeable events.
  • No-show or last-minute cancellations of free workshops or staff-led sessions may incur a £50.00 administration fee
  • In certain circumstances, such as adverse weather conditions, National Museums Scotland may waive the administration fee
  • Cancellations should be notified in writing to

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