Visitors Over 500,000 per annum
|Type Museum and exhibitions|
|Location Euston Road
Director Dr Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes
Curator James Peto, Head Curator, Temporary Exhibitions
Wellcome Collection is a museum based at 183 Euston Road, London, displaying an unusual mixture of medical artifacts 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'. The venue offers visitors contemporary and historic exhibitions and collections, lively public events, the world-renowned Wellcome Library, a café, a bookshop and conference facilities.
History and development
Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust, founded by Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853–1936). An extensive and enthusiastic traveller, Henry Wellcome amassed a huge collection of books, paintings and objects, on the theme of historical development of medicine worldwide. There was an earlier Wellcome Historical Medical Museum at 54a Wigmore Street, housing artifacts from around the world.
The Wellcome Trust moved its administrative offices into their new Gibbs Building (designed for the Trust by Michael Hopkins and Partners) on the adjoining site in Euston Road, completed 2004: thereby creating an opportunity for a new public venue in the old Wellcome Building. The collection opened to the public in June 2007. Due to its historical holdings, the Wellcome Collection is a member of The London Museums of Health & Medicine group.
Having been open since 2007, Wellcome Collection re-opened with additional public spaces in October 2015.
The Wellcome Library provides access to collections of books, manuscripts, archives, films and pictures on the history of medicine from the earliest times to the present day
Located on the 5th floor of the Collection, The Hub is a space for researchers and other creative minds to collaborate. The first residents of The Hub, Hubbub, are exploring the dynamics of "rest, noise, tumult, activity and work" from October 2014 to July 2016. In October 2016 a group exploring dementia and the arts will begin their residency.
The Reading Room
Refurbished in 2015 as part of the Wellcome Collection's 2015 renovation, the Reading Room is an "innovative hybrid of gallery, library and events space" open to the public.
The collection is divided into several spaces. The "Medicine Man" area is a permanent display of a small part of Henry Wellcome's collection. "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. 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. The space has included work by Felicity Powell and Bobby Baker.
The building foyer and public areas usually include a 1950 work by Pablo Picasso (originally on a wall in John Desmond Bernal's flat in Torrington Square) and one by Anthony Gormley. However these are not on view during building works (2013–2014). A figure by Marc Quinn was originally lying unprotected on the stone floor, then moved inside a glass case, and is also not currently on view.