In 1878, amid a rapidly proliferating social interest in public health and cleanliness, a group of sanitary scientists and reformers founded the Parkes Museum of Hygiene in central London. Dirt and contagion knew no social boundaries, and the Parkes's founders conceived of the museum as a dynamic space for all classes to better themselves and their environments. They promoted sanitary science through a variety of initiatives: exhibits of scientific, medical and architectural paraphernalia; product endorsements; and lectures and certificated courses in practical sanitation, food inspection and tropical hygiene. While the Parkes's programmes reified the era's hierarchies of class and gender, it also pursued a public-health mission that cut across these divisions. Set apart from the great cultural and scientific popular museums that dominated Victorian London, it exhibited a collection with little intrinsic value, and offered an education in hygiene designed to be imported into visitors’ homes and into urban spaces in the metropole and beyond. This essay explores the unique contributions of the Parkes Museum to late nineteenth-century sanitary science and to museum development, even as the growth of public-health policy rendered the museum obsolete.