Category History of medicine

Dirt, hygiene and filth at Wellcome Collection

Dirt: The filthy reality of everyday life, at the Wellcome Collection, opens with a warning. ‘This exhibition contains human remains,’ it says. It does. It also contains two of the most chilling exhibits I have seen. It begins reassuringly, tamely, with some homely images. First up is what looks like a grimy sash window, dull […]


Traditional English Medicine

I popped over to the British Library at lunchtime, to take a final look at Evolving English, their current exhibition. I was tickled by this recipe, from ‘Bald’s Leechbook,’ a mid 10th-century book of remedies and potions: ‘Take a bramble apple and lupis and pulegium, pound them then sift them and put them in a […]

Catching up with High Society

Drug paraphenalia isn’t a patch on what it used to be. That was my first conclusion from viewing High Society, the Wellcome Collection’s exhibition of all things mind-altering. On entrance to the exhibition, you’re confronted with a case full of exotic pipes, bowls, pill boxes and other accoutrements for the taking of drugs. An elaborate […]

Proof, puddings and surrogate outcomes

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, we’re told. Well, yes. But what if someone told you that, actually, how the pudding looked before it went into the oven was enough to go on, or perhaps how it smelled while cooking? They might be a good guide to whether the pudding would turn […]

Goosebumps from Skin at Wellcome

I finally got round to seeing the Skin exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, which runs until the end of the month. It may have been a mistake to see it at lunchtime, though – at least before I’d eaten. I’m not particularly squeamish, but there is something about skin – especially detached from it’s living, […]