One of my favourite places in London is the Wellcome Collection with its curiosity cabinets.
Located at 183 Euston Road, London, it explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. The venue hosts a museum with permanent and temporary exhibitions, the world-renowned Wellcome Library, the conference centre, a café with some great food and a very cool shop where it is possible to find many unusual gifts.
The Wellcome collection space was opened in 2007, but its story goes a lot further back to its founder Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936). Pharmacist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and collector, he made his fame and fortune by his extensive work in the pharmaceutical business. Being one of the first ones to introduce the medicine in the form of a tablet, Wellcome-funded scientists developed medicines to cure a number of important diseases, from tetanus to diphtheria.
In addition to the pharmaceuticals, Henry Wellcome had a passion for collecting unusual items and curiosities from around the world. His personal collection ranged to over a million of items, stacked away at the warehouse in Willesden. After his death, the Wellcome Foundation was established, which lead to the opening of the Collection over 70 years later.
I would like to specifically concentrate on the “Medicine Man” permanent exhibition, presenting the outright weird items from around the world. The extraordinary objects range from Victorian-era diagnostic dolls to Japanese sex aids, from the samples of tattooed human skin to antique artificial arms and legs.
This is quite a different exhibition to discover in London.
All images by Wellcome Collection / Rama Knight.
I have always been attracted to the mysterious wonders of the world, being captivated rather by the unusual than the well known regular things around us. One of my personal early childhood memories includes the blowfish carcass, from my father´s trips to Africa, displayed in the hallway cabinet. Even now our home is filled with the curiosities from around the world, brought back from my extensive travels. Often these are just random remarkable pieces of nature, such as a piece of bark from an exotic tree, a shell of a specific-looking nut or something more mysterious. If the space allowed, the collection would be a lot wider.
Inspired by the Wellcome collection (and other curiosity cabinets of this kind) I am looking to take this passion of mine further, continuing to collect the unusual items along the way and perhaps sharing the most remarkable finds online.