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Brains: The mind as matter


29 March 2012 - 17 June 2012

Brains Trailer

Brains is now at MOSI in Manchester and runs until 4 Jan 2013.

This major new free exhibition seeks to explore what humans have done to brains in the name of medical intervention, scientific enquiry, cultural meaning and technological change.

Featuring over 150 artefacts including real brains, artworks, manuscripts, artefacts, videos and photography, ' Brains' follows the long quest to manipulate and decipher the most unique and mysterious of human organs, whose secrets continue to confound and inspire.

'Brains' asks not what brains do to us, but what we have done to brains, focusing on the bodily presence of the organ rather than investigating the neuroscience of the mind.

'Brains' image credit: Headache (2008) by Helen Pynor. Courtesy the artist and GV Art.

Image galleries

Image gallery

Scientists have long explored the theory that mental capacities – such as speech, vision and even morality.

Image gallery

The collecting of specimens has been as important to brain science as to other branches of natural history, anatomy and pathology.

Image gallery

Throughout the ages, scientists and medical artists have worked together to achieve greater accuracy and understanding of the brain.

Image gallery

Since prehistoric times, humans have attempted to intervene beneath the skull to relieve ailments.

Video gallery



Guest Curator: Marius Kwint (University of Portsmouth).


This fully illustrated and fascinating exploration of the brain has been published to tie in with the ‘Brains’ exhibition.



In this fast-paced game, you must click on protein targets to grow your neuron.


The above interactive features a male human brain, removed from his skull shortly after death.


Gallery event

Drop in

Saturday 14 April


The physical brain has been poked, prodded and pickled over the centuries. Now it's your turn to get to grips with the brain.

Big Picture debates the brain

How well do you know your brain? From smart drugs and love to alcohol, the free Big Picture Debates the Brain discusses social and ethical questions about the human brain. Download the free app for iPad or access the online version.