14 May 2015

Last month we invited a small group of high profile London Instagramers to Wellcome Collection before we opened to the public. The idea was to celebrate our new and reopened spaces after our major development project. Russell Dornan tells us how it went and shows off some of the photos below.

Now that we’re Bigger, Bolder and Braver than ever before, we wanted to see ourselves through the eyes of these talented photographers; a new perspective enhanced by the galleries being empty.

We had enjoyed similar projects, such as #EmptyMet and #InsideAMNH, and looked forward to seeing how people would respond to our building. The dozen participating photographers refuelled with some refreshments on arrival to set them up for the day (it was 8am on a Saturday morning so it was the least we could do!), before we introduced them to Wellcome Collection and showed them around.

I spoke to Zoe Timmers, one of the photographers, about what she thought of the event: “It was a great opportunity to gain access to a space that I didn’t know very well and get to know it better, and be free to explore and shoot without the general public being there.”

Starting on the ground floor, they took to their cameras or phones and snapped away at our new staircase, the cafe lights and one of our current temporary exhibitions, Forensics: The anatomy of crime. The first photo was posted to Instagram before we even went to the next floor.

Exploring the awesome #wellcomecollection @josephowen #emptywellcome

A post shared by Johnathan Crawley (@johnathancrawls) on

The first floor featured permanent galleries Medicine Now and Medicine Man, as well as our other temporary exhibition, The Institute of Sexology.

pure chemistry #EmptyWellcome @wellcomecollection

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A couple of the photographers had been before but a lot of the participants had never visited the museum. Zoe told me “As a first time visitor to Wellcome Collection I was more than surprised – mainly with myself that as a Londoner and former UCL student I had never been inside. As a photographer I loved the space, clean design and natural light coming in. As a visitor I thought the collection was fascinating and I will be back to explore more! The staircase in the main hall is just beautiful and fits well within the space.”

#emptywellcome with @geerhee ✨

A post shared by Joe Pickard | London (@josephowen) on

We continued up the spiral staircase to the second floor, visiting our new restaurant, Wellcome Kitchen, and the beautiful new Reading Room.

The last part of the morning was all about the stairs with the group having fun arranging each other down its whorls.

For us, it was a great opportunity to meet talented photographers interested in capturing museum spaces in different ways, as well as seeing our spaces in a new light. I asked Zoe what these type of events meant for her. “As an Instagramer any opportunity to have freedom in a public space just allows for more photographic creativity. I often visit art galleries and museums and visualise how I would create shots were there no people in them – the #empty events allow just that.”

The photographs have been posted by the Instagramers over the last month and together give an intriguing taste of what we now have to offer, through the lenses of an exciting group of creative photographers.

You can browse all of the photos on Instagram using #EmptyWellcome or see them here.