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An Idiosyncratic A to Z of the Human Condition


24 June 2014 - 12 October 2014

A is for Acts of Faith, B is for Birthdays, C is for Chemical Life Support... Z is for Zoonoses

"Must we spell it out? This compelling collection gets an A+" - ' Time Out'

Explore our idiosyncratic A to Z illustrated with a curious combination of Henry Wellcome' s weird and wonderful collection of objects, medical artefacts, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and some equally intriguing contemporary artworks.

Watch the birth of the first test-tube baby (B for Birthdays), listen to Florence Nightingale speak (V for Voice) and sneak a peek at porcelain fruit showing sexual foreplay (X for X-rated).

Our fabulous visitor experience team will further feed your curiosity with live ' busking' on topics such as neuroscience and phantom limb syndrome, and offer lessons in forgotten skills such as foot binding, trephination and phrenology. Busking activities take place Tuesday-Sunday at 11.30-12.00 and 14.30-15.00, and also at 18.30-19.00 on Thursdays.

We invite you, as fellow experts on the #HumanCondition, to add your own idiosyncrasies to this quirky show by participating in the gallery or via social media. Each letter of our idiosyncratic A to Z comes with an invitation for you to participate. For example, under A for Acts of Faith, an illustrator will sketch out your accidents and near misses in the spirit of the displayed ex-voto paintings to the saints. Further along the alphabet, under F for Fears, we will ask you to kindly let go of your phobias next to our 17th-century etching of De Monstris and a Nicobar Island figure used to ward off evil spirits. To participate via social media, see ‘For your contribution’ below.

This exhibition runs throughout the summer ahead of our development project, which is due for completion in spring 2015.

Image gallery

For your contribution

Inspired by the exhibition, and for those of you unable to contribute in the gallery itself, we invite you to participate in our #HumanCondition activities via Instagram and Twitter. You never know, your submissions might even end up displayed in the gallery itself. Explore the themes in For Your Contribution below.


Send us a snap of your tattoos and it might end up in our gallery.


We dare you to share a selfie of your face in action - showing any expression you like.

Instagraming the human condition

Blog series

As a thank you for your wonderful pictures, this series explores the above themes and finds out the roles they play in making us human.