I heard about the Wellcome Collection just by chance, looking online to find original places to visit in London. I came to this museum & library last July, when London was affected by the heatwave and walking in cool places was quite a relief… Once inside the Wellcome Collection, I was stunned by what I saw: architecture, design, art … everything was there to satisfy my appetite to learn more about London’s secret gems!
The Wellcome Collection
The Wellcome Collection is a (completely free) museum and library located on Euston road, in the northern part of London. It takes its name from Sir Henry Wellcome, a pharmacist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and collector, who created the Wellcome Trust with the purpose to “challenge how we all think and feel about health”.
This trust supports researchers and aims at improving health by “helping great ideas to thrive”. The Wellcome Collection Trust also wants to enhance the connections between science, medicine, life and art. Many events, exhibitions, workshops are organized throughout the year for this purpose (available information on their website).
A fascinating museum
The museum (on level 1) exhibits the objects and artworks gathered between 1890 and 1936 by Sir Henry Wellcome and his agents across the globe. This collection reflects the cultural and historical contexts of health and medicine over the years. It’s very interesting to see the evolution of medical tools (some are really scary and we can only be grateful to live in the 21st century!), discover the differences in religious beliefs or have a look at the many paintings depicting the medical practices over the centuries…
An awesome Reading Room
The Reading Room (on level 2) is definitely the most beautiful one I have ever seen! Well designed, bright enough, very comfy (have you spotted the sofas and beanbags??) with several spaces to either work on a computer, read or chat …
I loved the fact that many objects are displayed there, like a hybrid of library and museum.
And the gallery upstairs makes it just perfect: in such a lovely environnement, how to resist the temptation to study or read there all the time (for those living nearby at least) ??
There is also the Library room (with one of the world’s leading collections on medical history), for those looking for another space when it’s too crowded in The Reading Room…
A remarkable staircase
Being very fond of lines and curves in architecture, I could only be impressed and seduced by the Wellcome Collection staircase!
This £1.1 million project was part of the remodeling of the Wellcome Collection, dating 2015. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, this staircase connects with the restaurant (“The Wellcome Kitchen”) and Reading Room.
The uniqueness of these stairs comes from the fact that the steel and glass construction (the outer glass balustrade faces the steel inner balustrade, which acts as a structural spine) meanders upwards, but includes changes in width and direction while maintaining a continuous slope. And … it is only attached at the landings. Yep. Seems as complex and beautiful as a piece of art.
Vertiginous. Fascinating. Contemporary design, technical expertise. I just wonder why I have not heard of it before …?
The Wellcome Collection hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions. The first floor showcases two permanent exhibitions – Medicine Now and Medicine Man – which I described as the “Museum” part.
On the ground floor is the “Gallery One”, where temporary exhibitions are regularly organised. The one I discovered in July was presenting and analysing “The psychology of magic”: it was incredibly interesting! I enjoyed understanding how our minds are manipulated by magicians, and why magic is just a matter of shaping things to mislead us.
Whatever the reason that will bring you to the Wellcome Collection (curiosity, studies, work…), you can only be delighted by this place! There is a Café downstairs and a restaurant upstairs where you can take time to soak up the special atmosphere there…
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found inspiration here. If you are soon to explore the Wellcome Collection, please share your experience and opinion here!
To go further:
Wellcome Collection: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE