Wellcome Collection

Free

The Wellcome Collection is a museum near Euston railway station that has exhibits of medical artefacts that show the development of medicine throughout the world.

It was founded by Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome who was a pharmaceutical entrepreneur and an avid collector of objects relating to medical progress.

Wellcome’s company was the first to introduce medicine in tablet form to England and it was one of the four large pharmaceutical companies to merge to form GlaxoSmithKline. The Wellcome Trust, which the Wellcome Collection is part of, is one of the largest biomedical charities in the world and it has made significant inroads into Cancer and Ebola research.

The Wellcome Collection on Euston Road in London is a free museum focusing on health, medicine and human identity. It is close to Euston railway station and it is worth a visit if you have an hour or two free before catching a train. (Photo: Thomas SG Farnetti, Wellcome Collection [CC BY-NC-ND 4.0])
The Wellcome Collection on Euston Road in London is a free museum focusing on health, medicine and human identity. It is close to Euston railway station and it is worth a visit if you have an hour or two free before catching a train. (Photo: Thomas SG Farnetti, Wellcome Collection [CC BY-NC-ND 4.0])

What to see at the Wellcome Collection

The museum is comprised of both permanent exhibits and a programme of temporary exhibitions.

The Being Human exhibit is the main focus of the Wellcome Collection’s permanent exhibition space now that the long-running Medicine Man exhibit closed in late November 2022. Other permanent displays include a 1950 painting by Pablo Picasso in the reception area.

Being Human

Being Human is a new permanent exhibition that uses around 50 artworks and artefacts to explore what it means to be human. The gallery represents important issues regarding health and human identity in an original manner that is seldom seen in other medical museums.

Mary Beth Heffernan's PPE portrait project uses photographs of healthcare workers to give a human face to the protective hazmat suits that can often appear terrifying to Ebola patients. (Photo: Wellcome Collection [CC BY-NC-ND 4.0])
Mary Beth Heffernan’s PPE Portrait Project uses photographs of healthcare workers to give a human face to the protective hazmat suits that can often appear terrifying to Ebola patients. (Photo: Wellcome Collection [CC BY-NC-ND 4.0])
The Interactive Jukebox in the Being Human exhibition is loaded with songs that relate to disease and illness. (Photo: Wellcome Collection [CC BY-NC-ND 4.0])
The Interactive Jukebox in the Being Human exhibition is loaded with songs that relate to disease and illness. (Photo: Wellcome Collection [CC BY-NC-ND 4.0])

Temporary exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection

The main exhibition space at the Wellcome Collection has a programme of temporary exhibitions. Temporary installations include:

The Cult of Beauty
The Cult of Beauty is an exhibition (until 28 April 2024) that delves into the intricate and evolving landscape of beauty standards, spanning ancient civilisations to the contemporary era. Featuring over 200 items, including art, photographs, advertisements, and medical tools, the exhibition probes how beauty standards have been influenced by religion, morality, race, and social status and also examines the role played by the beauty industry in shaping these standards, presenting cosmetics ads, corsets, skin whiteners and more.

Jason and the Adventure of 254
Jason and the Adventure of 254 (21 March 2024–12 January 2025) is a significant solo exhibition by artist Jason Wilsher-Mills that explores the body through the lens of the artist’s childhood disability. The exhibition features a vibrant and immersive installation, including monumental sculptures, illustrations and interactive dioramas. This multifaceted showcase challenges societal views on disability, medicine and the human body, celebrating childhood, memory and popular culture.

Visiting the Wellcome Collection

The Wellcome Collection is on Euston Road across from Euston railway station. It is right next door to Euston Square tube station (Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines) and just a four-minute walk to Euston tube station (Northern and Victoria lines). It is well worth a visit if you have some time to kill before catching a train from Euston.

Admission to the museum is free of charge, even to temporary exhibitions.

The Wellcome Collection runs a programme of free half-hour guided tours that operate Tuesday–Sunday at 11.30am, 2.30pm and 3.30pm.

The Wellcome Collection runs a programme of free half-hour guided tours. (Photo: Wellcome Collection [CC BY 4.0])
The Wellcome Collection runs a programme of free half-hour guided tours. (Photo: Wellcome Collection [CC BY 4.0])
It is fully wheelchair accessible with step-free access to all floors. It is also accessible for deaf and visually-impaired visitors with a programme of free audio-described tours and tours in British Sign Language.

The busiest times to visit are on weekends when there are sometimes queues for temporary exhibitions and Thursday evenings (when it is open later than usual) can also get busy. The opening and closing weekends of temporary exhibitions are the busiest of all and at these times, timed tickets are given out to control visitor numbers.

The Collection has a gift shop and two cafes. The Wellcome Cafe, is popular with people who work nearby and it often gets busy around lunchtime but the Wellcome Kitchen on level two is usually a quieter spot for something to eat. There are also plenty of other places to eat and drink nearby.

For a specialist museum, there is quite a lot to see here and you should allow 2–3 hours for your visit.

Nearby attractions include the Grant Museum of Zoology, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and the British Library, which are all less than a 10-minute walk from here. The British Museum, the Foundling Museum and Fitzrovia Chapel are not much farther away.

If you enjoyed the Wellcome Collection, you may also want to visit the Florence Nightingale Museum, the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum, the Royal London Hospital Museum and the Old Operating Theatre in London and the Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds.

Amenities
  • Wheelchair access
  • Free guided tours
  • Cafe/restaurant
  • Gift shop

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