Eating, walking, stretching and bubbles

25 August 2010

 A Packed Lunch event at Wellcome Collection
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A Packed Lunch event at Wellcome Collection

Can summer be over already? It’s sunny outside as this post is written, but autumn must surely be upon us soon, because we’ve just unveiled our new season of events. It’s quite a selection, ranging from London-wide health issues to microscopic bubbles, taking in skin both stretchy and perfect, packed lunches, delicious suppers and several intriguing strolls. Booking opens tomorrow at 14.00: our events fill up fast, so be ready to book online. And all (except the excellent value Supper Salons) are free.

Nursing and midwifery take over the entire building for an evening in Handle with Care, dedicated to the science and senses of caring professionals. Sick City? takes the form of a balloon debate: four experts each put their case for what they consider to be London’s public health priority. You the audience decide who wins, in a series of votes. And the Pars Foundation take an oblique look at our remarkably flexible skin in their Treats on Elasticity event (more on Pars and their stretchy work in a future blog post).

Lunchtimes will get interesting, as our Packed Lunch series of talks with local scientists returns. Taking her cue from our current exhibition, Isabel Jones kicks off by talking about her work repairing the skin’s delicate structure at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital’s burns unit. UCL’s Nick Lane looks into how complex organisms evolved from simple bacteria (it’s all about the mitochondria), and Peter Ayton from City University explains how we make decisions in a bewildering and complex world. Then it’s back to UCL with Eleanor Stride, who works with microbubbles. It all sounds unmissable, but if you can’t get there in person, the ever-reliable Packed Lunch podcast will be there for you to catch up.

If dinner is more your thing, then Supper Salon will be right up your street. We skip straight to dessert with jelly-makers extraordinaire Bompas and Parr, whose gelatinous creations do so much more than wibble-wobble on your plate. But if you prefer giant crabs to jelly you’ll be in good company with our next guest, Robin Ince, a writer, comedian and collector of very bad literature including tales of the aforementioned crustaceans.

Having filled yourself up with food and ideas, some exercise might be in order, and what better way to take it than with our series of medical walking tours guiding you through the hidden corners and recondite histories of Bloomsbury. Explore the medical marketplace in ‘Conspicuous Consumption’, take a walk on the dark side with ‘Dead Famous’, recall the poverty in Bloomsbury’s history ‘In Sickness and in Health’, and get a taste of the scientific and occult in ‘Secret Bloomsbury’. Walks are led by Richard Barnett, author of Medical London, Strange Attractor‘s Mark Pilkington, and the Wellcome Library’s very own Ross MacFarlane. If you’re taking photographs on the walks (or if you take photographs of medical sites and  scenes anywhere in London), we’re always grateful if you add them to our Medical London Flickr pool, helping us build up a composite contemporary picture of London’s illness and cures.

And don’t forget our events looking at the Wellcome Library and its collections. Investigate the relationship between our heads and our hearts in Mind and Body: Heart and mind, and discover the multimillion-pound industry that feeds our Quest for Perfect Skin. Find out more about Henry Wellcome himself, and about William Morris’s collection of manuscripts in the Library. Focus on lurid tales of London life in Anatomies of London, and the 19th-century enthusiasm for ‘reading faces’ in London Faces. And then see Africa from another angle with a special tour for Black History Month.

Looks like a busy autumn for us. Hope to see you here soon.