Policy on the care of human remains in museums and galleries

The Wellcome Trust's mission is to foster and promote research with the aim of improving health.

Human remains in museums make an important contribution in helping to achieve this mission:

As well as supporting these activities through research funding and exhibitions, Wellcome also owns a diverse array of material - ranging from antiquities, instruments, works of art, manuscripts, books and many other items - collected by Sir Henry Wellcome (our founder) over the course of his lifetime.

A significant amount of this material has been on loan to the Science Museum since the 1970s, including over 500 human remains drawn from many different countries and dating from prehistoric times to the early 20th century.

Read our full policy on the care of human remains in museums and galleries.

Find out more about the human remains currently held by the Science Museum on behalf of the Wellcome Trust. A list of these remains is also available.

Read out statement of decisions regarding the return of three Australian Aboriginal skulls, a Hawaiian skullMāori/Moriori human remains and a Tasmanian Aboriginal hair sample from the collections.

Contact us

If you have questions about any of our policies, contact the policy team.