The Wellcome Collection
By Francesca Fenn, May 14 2019 04:08PM
The next smaller London museum I’ve revisited, and also one of my favourites, is the Wellcome Collection on the Euston Road. It is indeed just that – Sir Henry Wellcome’s collection of objects of interest and it is a fantastic place - and entry is free!
The collection is there ‘for the incurably curious’. Housed in a spectacular building (with a wonderful café) it holds a changing series of exhibitions about the body and health, and a permanent gallery of star items from Sir Henry’s immense collection. This includes personal items such as Florence Nightingale’s slippers, Napoleon’s toothbrush and Charles Darwin’s walking stick! There is so much interesting stuff to see here, but my favourite space, perhaps one of my favourite rooms in London, is the Reading Room. It is beautiful and it has comfy sofas and floor cushions. It is saturated in amazing things, from a strait jacket you can try on to Beethoven’s death mask.
Some parts of the collection are explicitly sexual, or have human remains, so it is recommended that general viewing should be for over 14s. But there is a superb Young Explorers’ Guide and Young Explorers’ Kit (both free) for 5-10 year olds which takes them to age-appropriate exhibits.
At the moment and until September, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, a smallish exhibition about the psychology of conjuring, is on the ground floor. Videos of tricks, accoutrements of the stars (Tommy Cooper’s hat, Houdini’s handcuffs etc etc) and occasional live shows all feature and it’s an interesting and enjoyable show.
Like most smaller museums, the Wellcome Collection is closed on Mondays. It is near both Euston and Euston Square stations and is an absolute treat, but don’t tell everyone – one of its charms is that it is not horribly crowded!