Foreign Bodies

Foreign Bodies  is an exhibition curated by UCL Researchers in Museums, re-interpreting the collections through the theme of ‘foreign bodies’. Through 7 very different research projects, audiences are invited to explore the idea of what is alien – biologically, psychologically, socially and politically – and how this concept has shifted across history, culture, and even species.

The exhibition brings together objects from across UCL collections, including the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, the Grant Museum of Zoology and UCL Art Museum, as well as the Geology, Pathology, Archaeology, and teaching collections. The exhibition also includes special contributions and object loans from Dr. Ruth Siddall (UCL Department of Earth Sciences), the Gashaka Primate Project, and research-related objects from members of the curatorial team.


Opening Hours:


****UPDATE: We are very sorry to announce that the Foreign Bodies exhibition will now close on the 20th of June due to circumstances out of our control.****


18th March – 14th July 2013, Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm

UCL North Cloisters (Wilkins Building), Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Nearest Tube: Euston/Warren Street

Museum Trail open during museum opening hours (download our Trail Map here for more details). Follow Jeremy Bentham’s ghostly footsteps around UCL to find more ‘foreign bodies’ hidden within UCL Museums…


Museum Trail Tours with the Curators

Bentham LFThe sword that fatally wounded a sword swallower; ingested coins and nails extracted from the human body; medical instruments; parasites and ticks are displayed alongside objects that find their way into the body in more unexpected ways. Ink, introduced into the skin to create tattoos, may also inadvertently introduce dangerous microorganisms or chemical compounds. The tattooed body has itself often been regarded as a highly visible signifier of difference, one symbolic characteristic amongst many that may come to be viewed as “foreign”. Bentham RFThe categorisation of people according to racial stereotypes is another way in which we may come to define our difference or likeness to others. Similarly, primates may be considered to be the ultimate foreign bodies, against which we define what it is to be human.

An exhibition trail leading visitors through UCL Museums to discover other “foreign bodies” hidden within the collections, will take place once a week during museum opening hours. Each Friday at 2pm from April 5th, a curator-led tour will begin in the North Cloisters, highlighting different parts of the trail.


X-ray images of Jeremy Bentham taken on behalf of Engle Entertainment for “The Mummy Roadshow” on National Geographic.



UCL Foreign Bodies Exhibition






















Curated by UCL Researchers in Museums:


Gemma Angel (History of Art)

Sarah Chaney (Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines)

Suzanne Harvey (Anthropology)

Tzu-i Liao (Greek & Latin)

Lisa Plotkin (History)

Alicia Thornton (Institute of Infection & Population Health)

Felicity Winkley (Archaeology)