Death: A self-portrait


15 November 2012 - 24 February 2013

Death: A Self-portrait Exhibition by Richard Harris

Our major winter exhibition showcases some 300 works from a unique collection devoted to the iconography of death and our complex and contradictory attitudes towards it. Assembled by Richard Harris, a former antique print dealer based in Chicago, the collection is spectacularly diverse, including art works, historical artefacts, scientific specimens and ephemera from across the world. Rare prints by Rembrandt, Dürer and Goya will be displayed alongside anatomical drawings, war art and antique metamorphic postcards human remains will be juxtaposed with Renaissance vanitas paintings and twentieth century installations celebrating Mexico' s Day of the Dead. From a group of ancient Incan skulls, to a spectacular chandelier made of 3000 plaster-cast bones by British artist Jodie Carey, this singular collection, by turns disturbing, macabre and moving, opens a window upon our enduring desire to make peace with death.

Image galleries

Image gallery

We asked visitors to 'Death: A self-portrait' and this website to tell us about objects that they associate with death.

Video gallery

Mortal: A drama

Young people co-created a specially commissioned performance.



Wellcome Trust Senior Editor Chrissie Giles spent time at the day hospice at Princess Alice Hospice running a creative writing group.


Disturbing, macabre and moving, this beautifully clothbound book examines our enduring desire to make peace with death.

Learning resources

Study day

Enquire to book

Wednesday 21 March


Wednesday 28 March


Wednesday 11 July


A new half-day study session for students studying art and design subjects, exploring the links between graphic design and health.