Drawing at the Wellcome Collection

20130228_184524(0)The Wellcome Collection was originally created by Henry Wellcome and includes thousands of artefacts associated with medicine and medical science.  Since a massive facelift a few years ago, it is now housed in the original Wellcome building on Euston Road, focusses on medicine, life and art in the past as well as the present and future.

It is free to the public and open late on Thursday and Friday evenings, which is why we were there with our drawing class this week.  We spent the time in the room containing an eclectic array of all sorts of bits and pieces: surgical tools, prosthetic limbs, blood letting bowls, skulls, ancient votive offerings and weird diagnostic models.  It was buzzing with visitors all evening.

I was attracted by the curves and ornamentations on the old surgical saws, even if it didn’t do to think too much about how they might have been used, and what that experience would have been like.  (The huge forceps on the other side of the cabinet were far too redolent of their purpose and made me feel a little queasy….)  It’s fascinating that they would make medical equipment with fancy shapes and engravings; it’s almost as if the plain old sawtooth edge was the least interesting part of the thing.  It was much more about the handle and the frame.


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  1. I temped for a couple of weeks at the Wellcome library, must have been waaaay back in about 1984…I remember taking the tube every morning and always wearing trousers because of the wind that would rush up from the tunnels …

    • The wind still rushes up in quite a few of the tunnels! I was in London in 1984, but had no idea of the existence of the Wellcome Library or Collection until about 10 years ago…..

  2. fab drawing skills and isn’t the Wellcome fantastic! I don’t get down to London much these days and I’m saddened that I used to walk past it every week for a couple of years when it was on the other side of the road not realising that the public would be so welcome inside.

    • Thank you – I’m very much of a beginner, but I think I’m getting the hang of some of the tricks now. I think ignorance of the Wellcome Collection was fairly widespread before they did their big revamp a few years ago – I was certainly a late convert, and only went in for the first time about 4 years ago, even though it’s been there for decades….it used to be just another one of the ugly buildings on the Euston Road….


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