Wellcome Collection, London

Wellcome Collection, London

(Apologies for the photo quality – no flash allowed, and I did not have a proper camera with me.)

Sir Henry Wellcome was a British pharmaceutical entrepreneur. It was his pharmaceutical company that introduced the selling of medicine in tablet form. His company also introduced the direct marketing of pharmaceuticals to doctors and providing them with free samples. I wonder what he would think of those prescription drug advertisements that are so prevalent on television today.

In addition to his forward thinking business exploits, Wellcome was an avid collector of medical-related artifacts. Many of those items are on display in the Wellcome Collection, a free museum in London. It was an odd assortment of items, from artificial limbs to Napoleon’s toothbrush to chamberpots.

wellcome chamberpot

The chamber pot pictured above bears the following inscription: “MARRIAGE. This pot it is a present sent / Some mirth to make is only meant / We hope the same you’ll not refuse / But keep it safe and oft it use. When in it you want to P*SS, remember them who sent you this.”

And then there was the snuff box made from a ram’s head:

wellcome snuffbox

There were several display cases full of glass bottles. The sign nearby stated that Sir Wellcome had collected over 5000 pieces of medical and scientific glassware.

wellcome glass 3

Memento mori are artistic works that serve to remind people of their own mortality, and the Wellcome collection had some of them as well. Here are two pretty silver memento mori that we saw:

wellcome memento mori

I recommend going to this museum if you have an interest in anatomy, medicine, or just the unusual. Teenagers will absolutely love it, provided they aren’t super-squeamish.

The Wellcome Collection is located at 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE. Telephone +44 (0)20 7611 2222. The Collection is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 10:00 am to 10:00 pm on Thursdays; and 11:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sundays. Closed Mondays.

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