Henry Wellcome was a man with his fingers in a lot of pies; entrepreneur and patron of science among many other things. He was also a hoarder of everything and anything medicine and health. More than 150 years after his birth, this exhibition showcases some extraordinary objects from his collection, ranging from Japanese sex aids to Napoleon’s toothbrush.
The entrance was dramatic, with a huge eye-catching display of quirky medicine bottles. It looked like a wizards window from a fairy tale. As I initially scanned the gallery I noticed what looked like dozens of glowing mobiles*. As I got closer it said I could take one of the shiny tablets to hear more stories. Yes please! So I donned one around my neck, took an obligatory picture, and headed off…
It really did modernise my experience of the gallery. I could touch and scroll on the screen, choose what I wanted when I wanted, as well as rewind and fast forward each item. I was pleased to see a variety of content from videos, to audio reenactments and intriguing facts and questions. It was much more accessible and interesting than just text on a panel. If only there were some games to play too!
We wondered around, the wrong way may I add. The tablets that caught my eye should have been on the right if that was the correct way around, but I don’t think it mattered in the end… We pointed lots, and made sounds like ‘ooohhh’ and ‘eeerrr’, which is always a good sign.
I was surprised with how much I enjoyed Medicine Man. It had impactful and dramatic displays, umpteen cool objects, and the piece de resistance, a contemporary audio experience for us hip young uns’ who struggle to go five minutes without tapping a screen. Top Marks.
*It is available in English, French and BSL.