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Wellcome Collection

Home > London > Art | Free | Museums | Exhibitions
Published July 5th 2011
It's not beyond the realms of possibility that you will enter the Wellcome Collection building as one person and exit as someone entirely different.

If the extraordinarily quirky exhibits don't have a profound effect on your psyche, then the cafe's wonderful wild mushroom and caramelised red onion tartlet certainly will.


Billing itself as "a free destination for the incurably curious", the fascinating collection of oddities includes those from the world of medicine and art and many more besides.

Much of it was brought together by a pharmaceutical entrepreneur by the name of Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936), a man who loved to travel and bring things back with him. We're not talking about a casual souvenir collector here snow globes there are most certainly not.


On one recent wander around the place, I happened upon an artificial nose, Charles Darwin's walking stick, a number of artificial limbs, a European chastity belt from the 19th Century, a collection of sex aids from 1930s Japan, Napoleon's toothbrush, a Scottish snuff container built into the head of a ram (dated 1881) and a couple of glass eyes. And that's just for starters.

Permanent displays at Wellcome Collection include Medicine Man, home to the aforementioned objects - all with some connection to health or the body.


Medicine Now, another permanent display, takes a look at the world of medicine since 1936, the year in which Sir Henry made his way to the great operating theatre in the sky. Medicine Now concerns itself mainly with the body, genomes, malaria, obesity, and living with medical science.

Besides the permanent exhibitions, you'll also find a number of temporary ones taking place throughout the year. Click here for the very latest information regarding what's on.

Wellcome Collection also puts on free tours of its displays, giving visitors an even greater insight into its treasures. Click here to get all the details on the next available tour.


One-off events are also a big part of Wellcome Collection. Most are free, though some have a limited number of places so require advance booking. Click here to see the full list of upcoming events.

Inside the Wellcome Collection premises, located on Euston Road just opposite Euston train station, you'll find not only these quite frankly astonishing collections of the weird and wonderful, but also a library home to more than two million items, a space for special events, an auditorium, a well-stocked bookshop, and a cafe selling wild mushroom and caramelised red onion tartlets (among other fine dishes).
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Why? It's a fantastical coming together of medicine, life and art.
When: Mon: Galleries closed (except public hols, midday-6pm); Tues: 10am-6pm; Wed: 10am-6pm; Thurs: 10am-10pm (bookshop until 9pm); Fri: 10am-6pm; Sat: 10am-6pm; Sun: 11am-6pm; Public hols: Midday-6pm
Where: 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE
Cost: Free
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