Yesterday Natalie and I went to visit The Wellcome Collection in London's glitzy Euston Road.
Sir Henry Wellcome was a collector who, through his agents, amassed well over a million books, paintings and objects from around the world, aiming to tell a global story of health and medicine. Hence The Wellcome Collection was born.
There are three main exhibitions currently running; Medicine Man, Joy, and Being Human.
Medicine Man shows a small part of the collection including extraordinary examples of the many ways in which people, through time and across cultures, have sought to understand the workings of the human body, to protect themselves, and care for one another. It includes a wide range of objects relating to sex, birth and death. Oh and Napoleon's toothbrush.
Being Human explores what it means to be human. Hopes and fears about new forms of medical knowledge, and our changing relationships with ourselves, each other and the world. Featuring 50 artworks and objects, the gallery is divided into four sections: Genetics, Minds & Bodies, Infection, and Environmental Breakdown. A refugee astronaut carrying their belongings to an unknown destination, you can sniff a perfumed bronze sculpture that smells of breast milk, listen to an epidemic jukebox, and watch a fast-food outlet slowly flood.
Joy was the best though. It was an uplifting glimpse into what it is to feel joy. It can be intense but brief, and leaves you wanting more. Some find joy while losing themselves on the dance floor, others while catching up with friends over a meal. The exhibition explores the diversity of euphoric experiences and the effect of positive emotion on the body. Joy can bring catharsis, build resilience and bring people together. And it can be pretty funny too.
A nice little collection. Three exhibitions. And a lovely library too. Recommended.