Scottish National Portrait Gallery Library display

A Question of Life and Death (masks): The Phrenology Collection at the Portrait Gallery

The life and death masks on display in the Portrait Gallery Library were previously used by the Edinburgh Phrenological Society in the 19th century. Phrenology was a pseudo-science that claimed a person’s personality could be read by looking at the bumps on their skull. Although its popularity was fleeting, the records that remain give us a fascinating glimpse into the social and scientific history of the time. Becky Howell, Librarian & Research Assistant, will speak about the ongoing research project to help us understand the terminology used and beliefs held by the phrenologists. With BSL interpretation.