Bentham's Preserved Head
Bentham intended that after his death, his head should be preserved by a process of desiccation, as practiced by New Zealand Maoris. However, after this was done, the mummified head deteriorated rapidly and was replaced on the Auto-icon by a wax head.
The UCL archivist has provided the following information about the preserved head:
In 1948 the head was placed inside a specially constructed wooden box to give it more protection. The box was too large to fit inside the Auto-icon and so it was displayed on top of the case containing the Auto-icon until 1956, when it was put on a plinth over the door to the Cloisters leading to the eastern staircase. (UCL Archive: Bentham Box File 3).
After the ransome incident of 1975, a memo (3 Nov 1975) instructed that the head be put in the Strong Room of the Records Department. In 2005 it was relocated to the Conservation Safe in the Institute of Archaeology.
It was decided that as 'human remains', it was inappropriate to put the head on public display, and since then permission to view has been granted only in exceptional circumstances by the curator of the College Collections.