Lecture or talk Adults

Criminal Minds: The Phrenological Head Display

In order to help protect the health of our staff and visitors during this difficult time, we have closed all of our Galleries.

  • Tuesday 12 May, 12.45-1.30pm



The Portrait Gallery Library houses a selection of life and death mask which previously belonged to the Edinburgh Phrenological Society. The masks include notorious murderers, most notably Burke and Hare. Phrenologists believed that a person’s skull could show whether or not they were destined to lead a life of crime. This was obviously not the case, but what can these masks, and other objects from the National Galleries of Scotland, tell us about how morality and criminality were viewed in the 19th century? A talk by Becky Howell, Librarian Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The life and death masks of Burke and Hare displayed on a shelf

The life and death masks of Burke and Hare

Event highlights

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Event accessibility

Event accessibility

  • Wheelchair access
  • Hearing loop

Gallery facilities

A full accessibility guide is available at www.accessibilityguides.org.

We provide a sensory map of the building to help visitors identify areas with changes in light, smells and noise. It locates seating areas and less crowded, quieter spaces. Printed copies are available from the front desk at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

  • Information desk
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Accessible toilets
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Public toilets
  • Lockers (£1/£2)
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Buggy park
  • Seating throughout
  • Bike rack

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Located in the city centre on Queen Street, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is easy to access.

In addition to the transport options below there are bike racks at each site and Just Eat Cycle Hire stations nearby.

  • <strong>Gallery closed</strong>
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD

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