I’m not a science nerd by any stretch of the imagination, but I lost my mind when I walked into this museum.
This is one of the most beautifully presented, interactive and engaging museums I’ve visited.
Wellcome Collection museum at a glance:
- Explores connections between health, science, medicine, life and art
- Quirky, contemporary and well-presented exhibitions consider the human experience
- Reading Room integrates collection, research and study materials, and offers a quiet place to absorb your visit and relax
- Open every day except on Mondays, and is open late on Thursdays
Wellcome Collection is a global charitable foundation that houses the collection of intriguing pharmacist, entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Henry Wellcome. As well as establishing world-class medical research laboratories, during his lifetime Wellcome accumulated the world’s most incredible and extensive collection of material on medicine and health throughout the ages.
I thought that the permanent exhibition Medicine Man was mesmerising. It explores cross-cultural beliefs about health over the centuries and across the globe. The objects range from Napoleon’s toothbrush to anatomical models, chastity belts to medieval forceps, and even some Chinese porcelain sex fruit. Yeah! Curiosity definitely piqued.
M was particularly stoked by the display of over a hundred books (each a thousand pages long) listing the 3.4 billion units of DNA code outside Medicine Now. This is the museum’s other permanent exhibition, and here you can explore ideas about medicine and science since Wellcome’s death in 1936. The themes and displays here specifically relate to the body, genomes, obesity and living with medical science. The first module explores obesity, which features John Isaacs’ sculpture “I Can’t Help the Way I Feel” (2003). I thought this was a very powerful artwork, especially as it sits beside a huge shelf of diet books and emotional audio recordings of people discussing their struggles with weight.
This exhibition also had a beautifully executed visitor feedback wall inviting visitors of all ages to share their personal insights about modern health issues. As you can see in the image gallery below, the responses from young visitors are particularly poignant and moving.
When I’m next in London I’ll definitely be making the effort to spend more time in the divine Reading Room, which I discovered just before closing time. Described as ‘an innovative hybrid of gallery, library and events space’, this isn’t just another drab library. It’s a contemporary, neater and less dangerous version of Sherlock Holmes’ study.
The room is full of intriguing artefacts, beautiful sculpture and artworks, as well as countless research books and manuscripts. The staircase includes giant cushions and bean bags to have a sneaky kip on, read the Reading Room Companion e-book, or spark up conversation with a fellow stair-dweller. This would be the perfect place to do freelance work, study or just take a moment to reflect on your visit.
This is definitely one of my new favourite museums in London, I can’t wait to check it out again.
Have you visited Wellcome Collection? What was your take on it?
Plan your trip
What: Wellcome Collection
Where: 183 Euston Road, London
Opening hours: Open daily 10am – 6pm. Closed Mondays. Open late Thursdays.
Nearest Underground station: Warren Street