Happy birthday to us!

Jennifer Sutton looks at her own heart in Wellcome Collection's opening exhibition, The Heart

Jennifer Sutton looks at her own heart in Wellcome Collection’s opening exhibition, The Heart

Wellcome Collection is five years old today. Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes reflects on over twenty exhibitions, hundreds of events, and experimental approaches to a myriad of topics.

Wellcome Collection celebrates its fifth birthday today, just a few days after closing its most popular exhibition to date. Over 100,000 people visited our Brains show, with almost 1500 streaming in per day. They encountered an imaginative breadth that has become our trademark, with contemporary art brought alongside historical medical artefacts, scientific ideas mixed with cultural insights, and a refusal to follow the accustomed intellectual channels. The show it replaced, Infinitas Gracias, couldn’t have been more different: a parade of vibrant and moving votive paintings commissioned by ordinary Mexicans wishing to express thanks for divine interventions that allowed them to survive troubles and disasters.

Both exhibitions, along with the twenty others that preceded them and the weekly events that we have programmed along the way, have taken by turns playful, surprising, enchanting and informative approaches to exploring those aspects of the human condition where medicine, art and life come together. We launched Wellcome Collection in 2007 as an experimental approach to engaging an incurably curious public. Since then, we have been delighted to welcome an ever growing audience who have helped us explore a myriad of topics from flesh to war, from dreaming to dirt, and from hearts to hands. We are even more excited about what we can do in the next five years.

What are your memories of our first five years? Your must curious, inspiring or thought-provoking moment at Wellcome Collection? Tell us in the comments below…

4 thoughts on “Happy birthday to us!

  1. As selfish as this might be, I think one of my favourite memories is getting to participate in the ‘Things’ exhibition.

    My Dad’s socks went on show in the year prior to me walking 78 miles around London in his memory. Here’s the entry that was made in the Calendar of Things: http://bit.ly/KAKJQJ

    Although my blog posts from the time don’t reveal much, I was pretty emotionally overcome by my small contribution: http://wardwalkslondon.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/%22wellcome%20collection%22

  2. Without a doubt my favourite exhibition was the heart, with my very own heart on display! The collection allowed people to explore the medical, cultural and potential spiritual significance of the heart. For myself, I wished to increase organ donation for those who are still waiting for transplants. I am still getting a great response from people discovering this and related articles so I strongly believe you achieved what you set out to do. Well done.

  3. I’ve found so many exhibits enthralling – the retableux were inspiring, and from seeing the ‘disections of brains donated to scientific research’ I intend to donate my brain to the Wednesday Group’. – But the most imaginative for me was the live sound-cam from Chesil Beach, in the hope that a little calm and serenity might permeate the cacophone of the Euston Road … sadly, in vain. How much more the impact if it had been a ‘two-way’ experiment and the mayhem of Euston Road was blasted into the peace and tranquility of Chesil Beach – perish the thought!!
    Thank you Wellcome for bringing us so many excellent, thought provoking exhibitions – much appreciated.

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