Earlier on this month I finally made the time to go and visit The Wellcome Collection in London, which I have walked past hundreds of times, being located as it is between Euston Square tube and Euston mainline station. Billed as “the free destination for the incurably curious,” The Wellcome Library is basically a museum of medicine, and they don’t hold back on the gory pictures and close up views of torture implements on the site itself either.
Unsurprisingly, I was not the only Goth taking the tour when I got there, and I suspect that the collection is on the must-visit list of many UK Goths, and I’m here to tell you right now: GO.
So, what’s in the museum that’s worth a look? Well I’m gonna tell you.
The Wellcome Collection’s entire archives are in the process of being digitised and placed online, and you can also go through them on site too. Their current hot potato top ten list is named “Sex, Monsters and Madness,” and encompasses the archive of Ticehurst House Hospital, a mental health institution that ran from 1787-1975, and is just as interesting (and depressing) as you might expect, told in pictures and documents of the grounds, treatment facilities and patient rooms.
Other items of note in the list include a copy of the letter in which Francis Crick explains the structure of DNA to his son, Michael Crick, aged 12. A genuine piece of history, the actual letter itself apparently sold at auction for over £5m!
The museum hosts a range of special events and short-run exhibitions as well as their two main and permanent ones, which are “Medicine Now” and “Medicine Man.” Medicine Now covers the modern history of medicine from the mid 1930’s onwards, taking in things such as the human genome project and the modern obesity epidemic (see image!)-but what I found particularly interesting was the various life-sized models and representations of the human body and all of its various functions and systems. Yes ok, basically skeletons. I like skeletons.
There was a lot of “your mum” going on from the school group looking at this at the same time as me.
The “Medicine Man” exhibition was my favourite part of the whole visit, giving Joe Public such as myself a real-life look at all of the various gory tat that Henry Wellcome collected throughout his life, including medical implements, cultural artefacts, vintage sex toys, and some stuff that I frankly didn’t have a clue about, but was too lazy to go back for a touchscreen guide pad to satisfy my curiosity with.
I probably missed more stuff in total than I actually saw-spend an afternoon going round the exhibitions and you think you’ve seen most of it, but then you realise later on that you’ve come out with more questions than you went in with, and want to go right back… I strongly recommend all Goths take the time to go for a look the next time you’re in London-and pick up that audio guide pad on the way in, honestly.