Art at the Old Operating Theatre Museum

For more than a decade the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret is proud to have encouraged cultural and arts projects which engage with (the public communication of) biomedical science and the history of medicine. From expressive theatre through to Bioart practice the Museum has maintained its profile for facilitating cutting edge projects, providing public access to innovative discussion and reinterpretation within this unique architecture. Combined with the high standard of its comprehensive education provision, the Museum has provided to date a distinct and sustainable identity within the heritage and arts sector and continues to develop.

Karen Ingham, Specimen: Seeds of Memory, Dec 2006

The Arts Development Project has gained the support of The Pool of London Partnership, Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charitable Foundation, Kings College London (GKT School of Biomedicine), Borough High Street Amenity Foundation, The Wellcome Trust, Southwark Cathedral, London Borough of Southwark, English Heritage, the London Museums of Health and Medicine, Archives Libraries and Museums London, and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Arts Events 2009 - 2010

The Museum hosted two art installations sponsored by the Wellcome Trust. In January, the museum hosted 'This Fatal Subject' on the subject of death and dying, featuring a video installation by artist Susan Aldworth, and an innovative animatronic wax sculpture developed in the style of Joseph Towne's wax models by sculptor Eleanor Crook. Poet and writer Valerie Laws contributed poems to this event. In December, we welcomed Anne Brodie's exciting installation 'Exploring the Invisible', featuring portraits taken in the light given by bioluminescent bacteria.


Art Events 2007



To Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the rediscovery of the 19th Century Women's Operating Theatre of Old St Thomas's Hospital OOT Redux 50 presents

Richard Squires: PROGRAMME
Film Screening, June 2007

PROGRAMME is the culmination of a project based around the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, initiated by artist Richard Squires in 2003: a hybrid video work that interweaves drama, documentary and sporadic attempts at hypnotic communication. Interviews with historians, dramatic reconstructions, cataleptic performances and a syphilitic narrator come together to fashion a hysterical narrative that eventually unravels to expose its own construction. PROGRAMME is funded by Arts Council England and the University of Hertfordshire. Tickets cost £5, advance booking recommended. Also screening at The Whitechapel, Whitechapel High Street, E1 on 7th June 2007, priced £5. Tickets available from

Shelley Wilson: JOINT ACCOUNT

Opening in Science week
Saturday 10th March - Monday 9th April 2007, The Old Operating Theatre
hosts a site specific exhibition funded by the Arts Council by sculptor Shelley Wilson. Inspired by conjoined twins, Wilson's eerie wax sculptures suggest
the condition as a metaphor for complicated divisions.
Working from life, Wilson's sculptures add a new dimension to traditional wax anatomical sculptures, such as those of Joseph Towne
of nineteenth century Guy's Hospital.

OOT Redux 50 Presents 10th - 28th April 2007 at 7.45pm:
"A Bloodless Field": A Metal and Bone Production
of "The Bodysnatcher" by Robert Louis Stephenson and "The Gift"
written and directed by Ellen Hughes and Sally Toosey.

A thrilling double bill of plays explores our fear of donating our bodies after death! In "The Bodysnatcher", set in the Victorian world of black market cadaver trade, an ambitious medical student finds his conscience compromised.
In "The Gift", in 2007, a family wrangle over the body of their loved one,
while a transplant surgeon's accident makes him suddenly vulnerable.
Live Theatre by new company Metal and Bone in collaboration with Britain's leading Hospital Surgeons. Gala night on 17th April not to be missed includes cabaret, debate and public auction!

Selected Art Events 2006

Karen Ingham: SPECIMEN, Seeds Of Memory

10th November – 15th December 2006
SPECIMEN Seeds Of Memory : Art, Neuroscience and Botany
A site-specific exhibition of artworks exploring a visual language for the changing pharmacological landscape of memory by Dr Karen Ingham. What is memory? Can we ‘see,’ ‘touch’ and ‘hear’ our memories? What happens when we lose our memory as a result of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease? Can plant derived treatments help ameliorate such conditions? SPECIMEN Seeds Of Memory : Art, Neuroscience and Botany is published in book form.


27th June – 4th October 2006
An installation of photographic and video artwork by Susan Aldworth.
“The harder one stares into the machinery of the brain, the starker the realisation that there is no one in there. There is no inner sanctum of the self. Neural networks have a life and logic of their own. There is no one running the show.” Paul Broks.
In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the rediscovery in 1956 of the oldest operating theatre in Europe, artist Susan Aldworth shows her work in the newly restored roof space of St Thomas' Church, including the short films “Going Native” and “Lines of Thought”.

Susan Aldworth - "Lady In A Jar (Belina Crumb)" (2006)