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Photograph of a man wearing a face mask exploring an exhibition gallery space. He is wearing a white t-shirt with thin black horizontal stripes and jeans. His hands are clasped behind his back. The gallery around him has a warm yellow and pink tone. Directly in front of him is a large photographic print of a person in full length, frozen in a performative pose. Hung on the wall to the right is a cluster of 6 framed pen and ink drawings, 3 across by 2 high, showing in one a skull, in another a bird cage and in another a series of hands.
Joy exhibition, Photo: Steven Pocock. Source: Wellcome Collection. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

An unconventional perspective on the types of things that make us feel good


Explore the diversity of euphoric experiences and the effect of positive emotion on the body.

Joy is uplifting. It can be intense but brief, and leaves you wanting more. Some find joy while losing themselves on the dance floor, others while catching up with friends over a meal.

This exhibition shares with you a diversity of euphoric experiences and the effect of positive emotion on the body. Joy can bring catharsis, build resilience and bring people together.

New commissions by Harold Offeh, Amalia Pica and David Shrigley, plus artworks and historical objects dating back to the 15th century, guide you along some of the many paths to joy that different communities have sought, even in difficult times.

  • A complete set of gallery captions is available to read online. Large-print captions are also available in the gallery.
  • Our digital gallery guide for ‘Joy’ and ‘Tranquillity’ features 24 perspectives from medicine, science, religion and poetry, and audio descriptions of some artworks. It is available as audio, BSL and complete transcripts. Handsets are also available in the gallery, but we encourage you to bring your own device and headphones.
  • A family guide for people with children aged 3–11 is available in the gallery.