Curating Happiness

  • Discussion
  • British Sign Language
  • Speech-to-text
  • Audio described
Photograph of a tablet standing on a wooden surface with a bright green cabinet and a branch of blossom in the background. A photographic portrait of Laurie Britton and George Vasey is on the tablet screen with video call icons "People", "Chat" and a red telephone icon.
Curating Happiness, Photo: Kathleen Arundell. Portrait of Laurie Britton (left) by Ian Atkinson. Portrait of George Vasey (right) by Thomas S.G. Farnetti. Source: Wellcome Collection. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

What you’ll do

Join curators Laurie Britton Newell and George Vasey as they discuss the making and remaking of ‘Joy’ and ‘Tranquillity’, two exhibitions that form part of the ‘On Happiness’ season.

In this honest and illuminating online event, the curators will reflect on what they have learned about the elusive subject of happiness as part of this journey and how they hope the themes of the exhibits will resonate with visitors.  

Laurie and George will audio-describe a short walk-through film of the ‘Joy’ and ‘Tranquillity’ exhibitions. They will then discuss their experiences of pausing and starting the exhibition work in response to the cultural and political urgencies surfaced by the Covid-19 pandemic. The speakers will respond to audience questions during the final 20 minutes.  

This event will be live-streamed on Wellcome Collection’s YouTube channel and available to watch afterwards. After booking a ticket, you will receive a confirmation email with joining instructions.   

You will be able to comment and ask questions live online using YouTube Live Chat and via Slido during the event. Your microphone and camera will be switched off for the whole session.   

‘Joy’ and ‘Tranquillity’ are open 15 July 2021–9 January 2022.

About your speakers

Photograph of Laurie Britton Newell

Laurie Britton Newell

Laurie Britton Newell is a senior curator at Wellcome Collection and co-curator of the ‘Joy’ and ‘Tranquillity’ exhibitions, part of the season ‘On Happiness' (2021), and she curated the exhibition ‘Somewhere in Between’ (2018). She previously ran a rural curatorial platform in the USA and taught at the University of Colorado. Prior to that she worked as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where she curated critically acclaimed exhibitions such as ‘Memory Palace’ (2013), ‘Make Lab’ (2011), ‘1:1: Architects Build Small Spaces’ (2010) and ‘Out of the Ordinary: Spectacular Craft’ (2008). She writes about contemporary creative practice for books, magazines and newspapers.

Photograph of George Vasey

George Vasey

George Vasey is a curator currently working on projects with Wellcome Collection, Leeds Art Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. He has curated over 50 exhibitions since 2008 in public, academic and commercial contexts. He has previously worked as a curator at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland and as a curatorial fellow at Newcastle University. In 2017 he co-curated the Turner Prize. His writing has been published in Art Monthly, Art Review, Burlington Contemporary, Frieze and Mousse, as well as numerous artists’ catalogues and books. He regularly teaches and has mentored artists, writers and curators for various organisations.



Need to know

British Sign Language

This event is British Sign Language interpreted. An interpreter will be embedded in the event stream/visible to all attendees and will interpret what is discussed into BSL for d/Deaf, hard of hearing and deafened attendees.


This event will have live speech-to-text transcription in a separate window, which may be useful for people who are D/deaf, hard of hearing, deafened or neurodiverse. All ticketholders will receive a link on the day of the event.

Audio described

The host and speakers will describe themselves and key visual elements they refer to, which may be useful for blind, partially sighted and neurodiverse attendees. There will not be a separate audio description track.

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