From Cox to coccyx – 130 years of Anatomy in Dundee

A new University of Dundee exhibition explores the history of Anatomy in the city, from the earliest materials used to teach students about the human body through to world-leading research carried out today.

‘From Cox to coccyx – 130 years of Anatomy in Dundee’ has opened in the Tower Foyer Gallery and will remain on display until mid-December.

The Chair of Anatomy in Dundee was endowed by Thomas Hunter Cox of the jute family who owned Camperdown Works, and the first Anatomy teaching began in 1888. This was a key milestone for the new University College Dundee as it marked the first official step towards the creation of a Medical School in the city, an ambition which would eventually be realised in 1897.

The exhibition has a particular focus on the eight men and women who have held the Cox Chair since its inception and is being held as part of the Year of Anatomy, a programme of events marking the 130th anniversary of the Chair.

Tracey Wilkinson, the current Cox Professor of Anatomy at the University, said, “Our Year of Anatomy celebrates 130 uninterrupted years of the Cox Chair of Anatomy and the strengths of our anatomy research and teaching. As part of this, we're really pleased to be working with the University museum service to showcase our history in this way.

“The exhibition demonstrates the many changes that the anatomy department has undergone over its extended history, but one thing has remained steadfast throughout – the durability and vigour of our anatomy activities in Dundee.”

The fortunes of the Anatomy department have fluctuated since 1888, and on at least two occasions it was threatened with closure, but today the Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification (CAHID) is internationally recognised for its work in anatomical and forensic science.

Included in the exhibition are models, charts and other materials used in teaching students about the human body. It also explores the long connections between anatomy and art – from the Artistic Anatomy classes taught by the first Professor of Anatomy, Andrew Melville Paterson, up to the unique Medical Art and Forensic Art masters courses that the University offers today.

The eight anatomists to have held the Cox Chair are Andrew Melville Paterson (1888-94), John Yule Mackay (1894-1925), David R Dow (1925-58), Rex Coupland (1958-67), David Dick (1967-91),  Birgit Lane (1991-2009), Roger Soames (2009-14), and Tracey Wilkinson (2014-)

The exhibition runs until 14 December and is open from 9.30am-7pm on weekdays and 1-5pm each Saturday