Health Choices

In Victorian times there was a cure for everything – at least, that’s what many of the quacks and chemists of the time claimed! 
This exhibition explores the choices on offer in 1842 and shows how real cures were rare at that time.
Treatment depended on how much money people had, but even expensive remedies could be ineffective or harmful. People saw little difference between qualified doctors and ‘quacks’, and medicines were made by chemists and druggists as well as doctors. Millions of people who could not afford to see a doctor took ‘patent’ medicines made by private companies who spent huge sums advertising their ability to cure anything.
Wealthier people kept personal medicine chests, such as the one on display that belonged to Prince Albert. Doctors would also prescribe strong laxatives or purges to treat various illnesses, as well as treatments such as drinking or bathing in sea water.
This fascinating exhibition invites visitors to imagine what it must have been like to be ill in Victorian times and the choice of treatments available.

Find out if you would have made the right decisions!

Exhibitions and events

Leeds 1842

Permanent exhibition

The sights, sounds and smells of a Victorian street in Leeds will transport you back in time to 1842 and we’ll introduce you to a range of characters who lived there at the time.   Queen...

Disease in Retreat

Permanent exhibition

Disease in Retreat is a great antidote to our crowded and disease-ridden Victorian street! Here you can find out how scientific discoveries gradually led to a greater understanding of disease and a...

Life Zone

Permanent exhibition

Younger visitors love exploring Life Zone!   Fun, educational and interactive, kids have a great time finding their way around the colourful, hands-on exhibits and learning more about how their...

Fantastic Plastic

Permanent exhibition

What scent should a medical face mask have? Which material would you choose to make a replacement hip? Come and learn from the experts!   Today, we take plastic for granted, but it plays a key...

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Activities from this museum

School visits

The Thackray Medical Museum opens its doors to 20,000 school students every...

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