Exceptional & Extraordinary: unruly minds and bodies in the medical museum

Coming soon: two unique evenings of film, dance, performance and comedy inspired by museum collections exploring our attitudes towards difference.

Comedian Francesca Martinez, film-maker David Hevey, dance company Deaf Men Dancing led by Mark Smith, and writer/performer Julie McNamara are currently producing a series of dynamic and thought-provoking new commissions which aim to intrigue, provoke, entertain and stimulate debate.

Their performances will be presented over two evenings at the Royal College of Physicians in June 2016.

Book now and find out more about the artists:

Project background

Throughout human history certain bodies and minds came to be highly valued whilst others became viewed as problematic: as deviant and unruly, deficient and requiring adjustment towards a perceived idealised norm.

Following Mat Fraser’s astonishing award-winning commission Cabinet of curiosities that toured UK museums in 2014 and 2015, Exceptional & Extraordinary is initiated and led by the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) at the University of Leicester with experts in medical history, disability and museums.

Four artists – film-maker David Hevey, comedian Francesca Martinez, dance company Deaf Men Dancing led by Mark Smith, artist and performer Julie McNamara – have been invited to explore behind the scenes of eight of the UK’s most renowned medical museums:

  • the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons
  • the Science Museum
  • the Royal College of Physicians
  • Thackray Museum, Leeds
  • the Royal London Hospital Museum and Archives
  • the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • Bethlem Museum of the Mind
  • Langdon Down Museum of Learning Disability.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England, Exceptional & Extraordinary aims to engage the public with a reassessment of widely held assumptions surrounding physical and mental difference, disability and contemporary (often negative and discriminatory) attitudes towards disabled people.

Supported by