Bring us a thing!

8 October 2010

Bring us a thing that means something to you! A thing of significance, a thing no bigger than your head, with which we can update Henry Wellcome’s marvellous collection. Next Tuesday, the doors open to artist Keith Wilson’s ‘Things’ exhibition, but the display cases will be empty and there will be no objects to look at. It’s up to you to fill them with the things that you bring.

Sir Henry Wellcome’s collection, the collection of objects seen today in ‘Medicine Man’, was born from a passion for collecting (as described by Frances Larson in her excellent book on Wellcome’s collecting mania, An Infinity of Things).

Wellcome sent his agents to London’s auction rooms and across the world in pursuit of objects for his collection. Now we want you to be the agents and bring things to Wellcome Collection. You can permanently donate them to the artist, Keith Wilson, for ongoing use in his project, or you can have them back at the end of the exhibition (there are a few terms and conditions to peruse).

In the video above, Jo Brand explains the significance of the thing she’s bringing to Things – a matryoshka-style Russian doll portraying all the Beatles (with John Lennon being the largest). She offers a few tips for choosing an object of your own.

We can’t accept every object (our time and space are both limited), but if your object is accepted, it will be assigned a date in the year 2011. In the gallery, it will be placed on display corresponding to the date. Online, as our volunteers upload photographs and scan in forms, you’ll be able to locate the object by its assigned date by browsing through our calendar. It will be empty when ‘Things’ opens, but watch it fill up with objects during the course of the exhibition.

If you can’t make it to Wellcome Collection to bring us your thing in person, or you have something that you just can’t bear to part with, you can still take part. We’ve set up a Flickr pool, on which you can submit a picture and a short description of your own object. We’ll show these on the Welcome Collection website alongside the ones from the gallery.

Charting the progress of the show from the gallery floor, we’ll also be blogging live, here on the Wellcome Collection blog, commenting on our newly acquired objects and the stories attached to them.

But none of this will happen unless you bring us a thing, in person or online. So start combing your cupboards and raiding the dusty attic!