Sunday, August 10, 2008

Southwark skeletons at the Wellcome

There is currently an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection entitled Skeletons: London's Buried Bones which I am very keen to see at the Wellcome Collection. I mention it because it was featured in this week's Southwark News (August 7 2008, p.19) and I hadn't realised that it features skeletal remains from the 16th Century Bermondsey Abbey (which I talked about on a post covering the earliest heritage of the area). The Abbey was founded in 1082 and stood at a site on modern Abbey Street until 1540. Another site represented at the exhibition is the Cross Bones burial from Borough (thought to have been established originally as a cemetery for prostitutes which later included paupers). A great deal of information can be derived from the examination of skeletal remains, which is the main theme of this exhibition.

One of the people who attended the Bloomsbury Summer School this year was a medical doctor who is learning to interpet skeletal remains, and she said that the exhibition was fascinating on a great many levels.

There have been many conversations in recently, most notably at Manchester Museum, about the public display of human remains. It is an emotive area, but my own view is that if it is done to inform and teach, and the remains are displayed in that light, then there is a very good argument for displaying them. The Manchester Museum consultation came out overwhelming in the favour of continuing to display their remains.

I've updated the heritage post with the notes from Southwark News, and if I find out more details from the exhibition when I visit next week I'll let you know.

It runs between July 23rd and 28th September 2008 at 183 Euston Road, NW1 2BE. Admission is free.

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