Henry’s curious collection

By the way if you didn’t spot what was wrong with the skeleton, then that doesn’t bode well for passing MJM. Strange skeletons aside, this weekend I decided to visit The Wellcome collection on Euston Road; it has two permanent exhibits, containing an eclectic collection of health related artifacts and paintings. These pieces were collected by Henry Wellcome, a pharmacist, an entrepreneur (cofounder of Glaxo Wellcome, which merged with Smithkline Beecham in 2000 to become GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceuticals), philanthropist and a patron of the sciences. The Wellcome Trust was founded by capital he’d left in his will for charitable work and today is one of the worlds largest medical charities; a fraction of his collection is on permanent display for the public to see.

The photos in this post are mainly taken from the permanent collections, with a few shots from the new Ayurvedic medicine exhibition too. I did notice a few pieces appeared to be missing from the permanent gallery, in particular the Japanese sex aids (I can imagine how disappointed you all are); though the phallic amulets (this summer’s must have fashion accessory) were still there (see above).

The permanent galleries are organised into two galleries, one gallery focuses on his collected artefacts and paintings, the seconds contains more contemporary commissioned pieces, focusing on themes such as genetics, obesity and the human form. The photographs are not in any particular order and I apologise in advance for the glare in some of the photos, the gallery containing his collected artefacts had little in the way of ambient lighting.

The Wellcome collection is well worth an eyeball if you’re in the area (Euston Station & Warren Street). As well as the permanent galleries they frequently curate new exhibitions which explore the relations between life, art and medicine; past exhibitions have included,¬†Forensic medicine, Sexology, Bedlam the asylum & beyond and Stages of the mind to name but a few.

Before I end this post, I wanted to mention the Wellcome Trust Library. If you’re involved in historical health related research, the Wellcome Trust Library is worth accessing. Some resources have been digitised, others have to be requested prior to visiting the library. Most of their resources are stored away, so don’t just turn up expecting shelves of books. The archive contains a vast collection of material from historic Arab medical manuscripts, additional art works collected by Henry Wellcome and a plethora of historical medical literature from the 18th Century onwards; their catalogue is available online.

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