The Wellcome Collection is a museum displaying an unusual mixture of medical artefacts and original artworks exploring 'ideas about the connections between medicine, life and art'. Founded in 2007, Wellcome Collection now attracts over 500,000 visitors per year and is advertised as 'the free destination for the incurably curious'. Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853 - 1936) was born in a frontier log cabin in what would later become Almond, Wisconsin to Rev. S. C. Wellcome, an itinerant missionary who travelled and preached in a covered wagon, and Mary Curtis Wellcome. He had an early interest in medicine, particularly marketing. His first product, at the age of 16, was invisible ink (in fact just lemon juice), which he advertised in the Garden City (N.Y.) Herald. In 1880, Wellcome established a pharmaceutical company, Burroughs Wellcome & Company, with his colleague Silas Mainville Burroughs. They introduced the selling of medicine in tablet form to England under the 1884 trademark "Tabloid". Previously, medicines had been sold mostly as powders or liquids. Burroughs and Wellcome also introduced direct marketing to doctors, giving them free samples. In 1901, Wellcome married Gwendoline Maud Syrie Barnardo, a daughter of orphanage founder Thomas John Barnardo. They had one child, Henry Mounteney Wellcome, born 1903, who was sent to foster parents at the age of about three. He was considered to be sickly at the time, and his parents were spending much time travelling. In 1910, Wellcome became a British subject. He was knighted in 1932. Wellcome had a passion for collecting medically related artefacts, aiming to create a Museum of Man. He bought for his collection anything related to medicine, including Napoleon's toothbrush, currently on display at the Wellcome Collection. By the time of his death there were 125,000 medical objects in the collection, of over one million total.
The collection is divided into several spaces. The "Medicine Man" area is a permanent display of a small part of Henry Wellcome's collection; more than 150 years after his birth in 1853, this exhibition reunites a cross-section of extraordinary objects from his collection, ranging from diagnostic dolls to Japanese sex aids, and from Napoleon's toothbrush to George III's hair. It also provides a very different perspective on some of our own obsessions with medicine and health. "Medicine Now" is a permanent exhibition combining art, mixed media displays and objects to present some aspects of modern medicine and of the work of the Wellcome Trust. Within the huge field of medicine this exhibition attempts to focus on only a few topics: the body, genomes, obesity and living with medical science. Each is explored through a range of exhibits from science and everyday life, as well as artistic responses to the issues presented in red 'art cubes'. This area features a postcard wall where visitors are encouraged to contribute drawings. The main exhibition space hosts a changing programme of events and exhibitions. Temporary exhibitions include 'Tibet’s Secret Temple', 19 November 2015 - 28 February 2016, where you can explore Tibetan Buddhist yogic and meditational practice and their connections to physical and mental wellbeing; 'States of Mind: Tracing the edges of consciousness' 4 February 2016 - 16 October 2016, the second part of States of Mind explores our understanding of the conscious experience from different perspectives; 'This Is A Voice', 14 April 2016 - 31 July 2016, an acoustic journey tracing the material quality of the voice to capture its complex psychological and physiological origins. Step-free access is available to all floors of the building (via platform and passenger lifts). Assistance animals are welcome. At the ground floor Information Point, they will be happy to supply your animal with a drink of water. Wheelchairs are available to borrow during your visit. Please ask at the ground floor Information Point. Magnifying glasses and sheets are available to borrow from the ground floor Information Point. Large print label guides are available for our permanent exhibitions and for certain temporary exhibitions. Braille labels and tactile reproductions accompany featured objects set in their own cases around the outer edge of our permanent collection Medicine Man. Guided audio described tours are available for blind and partially sighted visitors. These tours are led by Wellcome Collection staff who have been trained in audio description by VocalEyes. These tours are free and available on request subject to availability. If you are interested in arranging an audio described tour, please contact us in advance of your visit to ensure a member of staff is available. Events supported with audio description for blind and partially sighted visitors are available. Listings for upcoming audio described events can be found on their Events page. Look out for the AD symbol to see which events are supported with audio description.
Location : Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE.
Transport: Euston Square (Circle Line, Metropolitan Line, Hammersmith + City). Euston (Victoria Line, Northern Line, Overground - Watford DC, National Rail). Warren Street (Victoria Line, Northern Line). London Buses routes 10, 18, 24, 27, 29, 30, 59, 68, 73, 88, 91, 134, 168, 205, 253 and 390 stop nearby.
Opening Times: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 to 18:00.
Thursday and 1st Friday of Month until 22:00.
Library Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 18:00.
Tickets : Free.
Tel: 020 7611 2222