19 July 2024 - 9 May 2025

Monday – Friday, 10am - 4.30pm

Free entry

11 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JQ

Click for festive opening times and public holidays


‘Wild & Tame’ explores the history of animals, real and imagined, and their impact on human lives and culture.  From unicorns and the first Renaissance animal encyclopaedia to Charles Darwin, our exhibition shows how humans exploited animals and how they cared for them, creating our shared history.

The exhibition has three themes - it begins by exploring the beginnings of medical care for animals as well as the role animals played in the development of modern medicine for humans.

The second theme shows the changing ways we depicted animals and studied them, finally unlocking the mysteries of evolution and our place in the natural world.

The third theme will explore the vital role animals played in our cultural history, from myths and monsters to modern pets and companions.


16th century animal encyclopaedia with over 1,500 illustrations of animals by Conrad Gesner.

17th century drawing of a whale stranded in the Firth of Forth by Robert Sibbald, the founder of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

The first edition of one of the most important books in the history of science, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of species by means of natural selection. 

A replica Fiji mermaid, the grotesque version of the mermaid made by sawing the top half of a monkey onto the bottom half of the fish.

Five different types of unicorn in Pierre Pomet’s A compleat history of drugs.


To find out more about the exhibition  please email us at library@rcpe.ac.uk

For press releases, images or other press-related information please email us at policy@rcpe.ac.uk