Here at HealthBid, healthcare is our passion and we’re always seeking to expand our knowledge as to medicine. This blog series will focus on a member of our team’s medical discoveries every fortnight. This week, our bid writer, Georgie, visited the world famous Wellcome Collection. Established in Euston in 1949, it showcases a vast variety of medical curiosities ranging from Sir Henry Wellcome’s original collection, to modern day works. Here’s what she had to say…
“The Wellcome Library is my first-choice destination whenever I’m around King’s Cross, with the tranquil Reading Rooms one of my top places to sit and ignore the buzzing city streets for an hour or so. They’ve also got some of the comfiest chairs known to man or woman (in my humble opinion), along with spectacular views over Central London.
Moreover, as a self-confessed bibliophile, the Reading Rooms have to be my favourite library as they house an incredible collection of thousands of books; ranging from alchemy to travel, from the historical to those published in the last year. The Wellcome Book Prize - awarded to tomes which engage with any aspect of health - is well-respected and judged by several well-known publishers, authors and academics. When I was there this weekend, I skim read Amy Liptrot’s novel ‘The Outrun’ and Cathy Rentzenbrink’s ‘The Last Act of Love’.
Both books were shortlisted for 2016’s award, though didn’t win - instead the award went to Suzanne O’Sullivan’s ‘It’s All in Your Head’, a study of psychosomatic illness. What makes these books so engaging to me, however, is their autobiographical origins; Liptrot’s narrative is drawn directly from her experiences recovering from alcoholism and depression, and Rentzenbrink’s recounts her brother’s serious disability and subsequent death, and the impact this has had on her own mental health. Both women’s stories provide an incomparable insight into public attitudes towards mental health from the 1990s to the present. Moreover, as someone who has written on Mental Health in a bid writing capacity, it’s really useful to realise how individuals experience NHS services on the ground.
Whilst I was only at Wellcome for a quick visit between catching trains, I also managed a wander to the ‘Medicine Man’ exhibition, which includes a surfeit of - somewhat draconian - objects collected by Henry Wellcome from the late 19th to the early 20th century. A new addition to the 1st floor is the S.P.I.R.I.T. Booth which allows visitors to photograph themselves alongside their own psychic transparency - though unfortunately, the queue was a bit long for me to attempt to capture my connection with the spirits! In fact, although it was a Sunday afternoon, this wasn’t obvious due to the crowds milling about the various exhibits. All in all, it’s both simultaneously a relaxing and a stimulating place to visit, especially if you’re interested in healthcare. I’ll definitely be back in March for their forthcoming 'Electricity’ exhibition. Best of all, every single exhibition at the Wellcome Collection is free, and the staff are evidently interested by science; conveying this enthusiasm to visitors."
Image Credit: Matt Brown