London: the Wellcome Collection

I am presently sitting in Peyton and Byrne, the cafe inside the Wellcome. I shall define the Wellcome with its tag-line: “a free destination for the incurably curious.” While there are Wellcome centers in many cities (including Oxford), this is the two-building matrix including the Wellcome Library and the Wellcome Trust. The library contains 750,000 books, and on the first floor are a number of galleries. Through August of this year, the main exhibit is DIRT: The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life. There are image galleries and permanent galleries that include the birthing devices, etc. Here is a link to exquisite bodies. My favorite, naturally.

I am here for two reasons. Perhaps three, if you count incurable curiosity. Partly, I wished to get a reader’s card. The Wellcome Collection is a valuable research tool, and there are so many texts, images, and objects to explore. Given my interest in intersections of medicine, literature and anthropology, it is a kind of Mecca. I was shown about by Ross MacFarlane, a research officer and quite brilliant. He is a colleague of James Edmonson, whose name keeps appearing in my work and writing… Dr. Edmonson is the curator of the Dittrick Museum in Cleveland, a truly exceptional museum. The exhibit on birth is one of the best I have seen, and it was there that I had the privilege of beginning this work.

But the final reason for this trip is an upcoming class proposal. It is my hope to bring a group of students to the Wellcome in the future–I know plenty of them who are as incurably curious as I.

[And yes, there is a man standing on the ceiling in the atrium]

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