Medicine Man

Now on
  • Permanent exhibition
Photograph of the Medicine Man exhibition at Wellcome Collection showing a wall of oil paintings with two visitors standing in front.
Medicine Man exhibition, Benjamin Gilbert. Source: Wellcome Collection. CC BY.

Henry Wellcome was a man of many parts: entrepreneur, philanthropist, patron of science and pioneer of aerial photography.

He also created one of the world's great museums: a vast stockpile of evidence about our universal interest in health and the body.

More than 150 years after his birth in 1853, this exhibition reunites a cross-section of extraordinary objects from his collection, ranging from diagnostic dolls to Japanese sex aids, and from Napoleon's toothbrush to George III's hair. It also provides a very different perspective on some of our own obsessions with medicine and health.

In 'Medicine Man' some objects are gathered by type and others by broad cross-cultural themes. Seven other objects are presented individually and are examined by a variety of commentators from different backgrounds, to show that one object can mean many different things and tell many different stories.

Borrow a free digital guide and learn about Henry Wellcome's wonderful curios (available in English, French and BSL).

Some non-flash photography is permitted in this exhibition.

Visit us

Free admission

Galleries open Tuesday–Sunday, Opening times

Medicine Man gallery, level 1

Step-free access is available to all floors of the building

Large-print guides, transcripts and magnifiers are available in the gallery