London’s Wellcome Collection brings appreciation for ‘curiosities’ into the 21st century, with provoking displays relating to the human experience, medicine, and science. Run by the Wellcome Trust, the world’s largest independent charitable foundation funding research into human and animal health, it holds a sometimes-grisly collection of medical implements and artefacts from the personal collection of 19th century pharmacist Sir Henry Wellcome, and never fails to pique curiosity and capture the imagination.
Complementing this permanent collection is a lively roster of original exhibitions, mostly concerned with exploring what it means to be human in all our weird and wonderful ways. No place for the faint-hearted, some of its best shows have included the superb High Society, exploring the prevalence of man’s casual and medicinal drug use through the ages and Dirt: The Filth of Everyday Life, which is fairly self explanatory.
The Wellcome Collection really succeeds in consistently tapping into the instinctive fascination we have with ourselves, and the skin we live in. As well as being a place where imaginative ideas are creatively displayed, the Wellcome Collection is also a place for real learning and research. The Euston Road building is home to the Wellcome Library – a collection of 750,000 books, journals, manuscripts, archives and films, and Wellcome Images, a major visual collection. It also plays host to well as countless informative public events and conferences.
This brand new restaurant located on the second floor of the building is a beautifully presented addition to the Wellcome Collection. New chefs combine locally-sourced ingredients into fresh, seasonally inspired lunches and afternoon teas, on a regularly changing menu. A highlight is the weekly Thursday-only evening meals, for an even more extensive and adventurous selection.
Run by British favourite Benugo, the Wellcome Café has some great coffees and loose leaf teas, alongside sandwiches and salads, and cakes and pastries, making it an easy stop for anyone wanting to chat ruminate upon the oddities on display.
Managed by Blackwell’s on of the UK’s best book stores, the Wellcome Collection’s shop is filled with publications, mostly related to the Collection’s displays. There’s a focus on medicine and the sciences, but also books on art and history. Perhaps the best items on offer though, are the home furnishings that feature subtle biologically inspired prints.
183 Euston Road
+44 (0)20 7611 2222
Tuesday – Wednesday – 10.00 – 18.00
Thursday – 10.00 – 22.00
Friday – Sunday – 10.00 – 18.00
Tube: Euston (Victoria Line, Northern Line, London Overground Line).