East Grinstead Museum’s ‘Rebuilding Bodies and Souls’ exhibition tells the story of Sir Archibald McIndoe and the Guinea Pig Club.

The linked education program provides a wealth of learning opportunities for young learners and teachers to engage with this important aspect of East Grinstead’s history. Help your pupils to discover more about the interesting world of plastic surgery, psychological rehabilitation and the post-war medical developments which McIndoe pioneered. Learn about the way in which the whole community of East Grinstead supported McIndoe’s work to become ‘the town that didn’t stare’.

Our education sessions for schools have been specifically designed to meet the needs of the National Curriculum and cross-curricular creative learning across history, art, english and science.

For primary schools, our sessions can support the significant individual module and local history study, whilst secondary schools can learn about McIndoe the Maestro as part of medicine through time studies. 

At the bottom of the page you will find a number of free, printable resources for you to use in any sessions which cover the story of McIndoe, the Guinea Pigs or Queen Victoria Hospital.

Key Stage 1 sessions: Hands and Faces

Museum tour - telling the story of McIndoe and the Guinea Pig Club (20 minutes)

Artefact handling - objects related to the Guinea Pig Club (15 minutes)

Feely bags - use blindfolds to handle objects and consider the loss of sight (15 minutes)

'Changing Faces' collage art activity - create a portrait and consider how unique we all are (15 minutes)

‘Using our hands’ tactile activity - handle items using mittens and bandages to consider how injury affects how we use our hands (15 minutes)

‘The Town that didn’t stare’ drama session - consider how East Grinstead reacted to the Guinea Pig Club and how we treat people who are different to ourselves (15 minutes)

Key Stage 2 sessions: The town that didn't stare

Museum tour - telling the story of McIndoe and the Guinea Pig Club (30-45 minutes)

'The Town that Didn’t Stare’ presentation including artefact handling - A visual talk telling the story of McIndoe's pioneering surgery at Queen Victoria Hospital. Learn about McIndoe as a significant individual. (45 minutes)

Molly’s medical drawings - creative art workshop exploring Molly Letaigne's drawings and learning about the human anatomy (1 hour)

Rebuilding faces- create a clay portrait whilst considering the intricacy of McIndoe's surgical procedures  (45 minutes-1 hour)

‘The town that didn’t stare’ drama session - use creative theatre techniques to consider how East Grinstead reacted to the Guinea Pig Club and why the town became known as 'the town that didn't stare (1 hour)

Dear Diary - students will produce a short piece of creative writing imagining themselves as a member of the Guinea Pig Club (45 minutes)

Key Stage 3 and 4 sessions: McIndoe the Maestro

McIndoe ‘the Maestro’ talk including artefact handling – An opportunity to hear the story of Sir Archibald McIndoe, and his work at the Queen Victoria Hospital, using a power-point presentation combined with the opportunity to handle objects from the Queen Victoria Hospital and Guinea Pig Club Collection. This session supports the medicine through time module (1 hour to 90 minutes).

Molly’s medical drawings –Students will begin by looking at the drawings of Molly Letaigne discussing what we can learn about medical procedures from the sketches before considering why it is important to produce accurate drawings for medical records. Students will explore the structure and functions of the human skeleton and facial muscles, and produce a series of drawings exploring the human anatomy, finishing the session by producing a portrait of themselves. An excellent cross-curricular activity combining art and science (1 hour - 90 minutes).

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - A session to support PSHE delivery. Beginning the workshop with an introduction to the work of pioneering plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe, students will learn about how McIndoe’s work has informed contemporary burns treatment as well as modern aesthetic plastic surgery. Students will compare a range of old and new photographs to consider the advantages, disadvantages and ethical implications of plastic surgery, through a combination of group discussion, drama and collage. (1 hour to 90 minutes).


We are able to deliver these sessions free to schools until May 2018, thanks to a generous Heritage Lottery Grant. 

We accept booking for sessions a minimum of three months in advance.

For further information and bookings please contact info@eastgrinsteadmuseum.org.uk


  • McIndoe and the Guinea Pigs Quiz. This quiz covers some of the key aspects of the McIndoe story. Available to download here, with the answers here.
  • True or False. This activity is designed to get people thinking about the topic in a different way. The quiz can be found here and the answers here.
  • Wordsearch. We have put together four options to keep your groups occupied. Available in  Easy, Medium, Hard and Very Hard