Wellcome Collection

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.

Dali Theatre Museum

Beginning of the month took me on a wonderful Catalonia mini break in Spain which I will talk about over next few travel posts.

One thing I most definitely wanted to do is visit the Dali museum. Turns out there are at least three of them in Catalonia! Salvador Dali was originally from that area, being born inland in a small town of Figueres, having his first studio in Cadaques and Gala´s Castle in Pubol.

map

So from this Dali Triangle we picked to visit Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres.
Did not have time to look around properly in this little town, but down the street just outside the Catalonia Toy Museum, some quirky architecture could be spotted. What a surrealistic town!

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I am a huge fan of Dali´s works. A few fun facts about Salvador:

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech (that was his real name) work spans across several decades between 1922 till his death in 1989 and covers several art disciplines. Generally known as syrrealist painter, his atistic development can be seen in his huge Theatre Museum.

I think it is quite important curious fact of his life that Salvador Dali had a 3 years older brother, also named Salvador, who died 9 months before Salvadore Dali the younger was born. He was named after his brother and raised as an reincarnation of the deceased sibling. When Salvador was 5 years old, his parents took him to his brother´s grave and told him the story. Must have been kind of creepy living with this knowledge, but to me this explains a lot about the bizarreness of his character and the reason he might have wandered into surrealism (in addition to the sociopolitical influences of the time and other art movements). The images of his dead brother have appeared repeatedly in his works.

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Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres used to be a municipal theatre (hence the name), where in the vestibule Dali had his first exhibition back in a day. Now it is turned into the museum spanning several floors and a wonderful courtyard.

Fact that I did not know during my visit, Dali is buried in the museum´s crypt, so his presence is still there!

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Being so captivating we easily spent 4 hours in the museum.
Highly recommended!

Dents glove museum

I recently had an amazing opportunity to visit Dents gloves factory in Warminster, Somerset and take a peek at the glorious gloves collection of their museum.

The display ranged from the most extraordinary  and special gloves in the world to a wide selection of fashionable gloves of different eras, tracing back several hundred years.

The most honorable one was the royally embroidered Queen Elisabeth II Coronation glove, from 1953. Remarkably, the glove is made just for one hand and was barely worn at the ceremony. Being so special it is kept in a special sealed display cabinet with personal temperature management system.

Queen´s coronation glove on display

Among most extraordinary gloves were the tiniest ones, of just 2-3cm in length – named the world´s smallest hand knitted gloves. The smalles leather gloves were not much bigger and meticulously hand stitched.

In Medieval times glove´s fingers were made to look extra long by extending the gussets way into the gloves, as extremely long fingers were considered elegant in early 17th century.

Charles 1 gloves 17th cent
Gloves worn by Charles I, early 17th cent.Image by Dents

My personal favourites were the hand painted Victorian era gloves, 1880-1900.
Hand painted Victorian gloves
Up to early Victorian days gloves were often made to individual requirements of ladies of fashion. Not just size wise, but also also design wise. The selection of points, crests and embroideries were made from specimens exhibited in glove shops.

styles display
Styles selection sample for personal orders

There were even some sequence embroidered gloves from those times.

Victorian bead embroidered gloves

And a large contemporary selection…