Skin

Exhibition

10 June 2010 - 26 September 2010

Skin exhibition tour

Critics' choice - Time Out "a revelation" - Daily Telegraph "fascinating" - Guardian

The 'Skin' exhibition invites you to re-evaluate the largest and probably most overlooked human organ. We consider the changing importance of skin, from anatomical thought in the 16th century through to contemporary artistic exploration.

Covering four themes (Objects, Marks, Impressions and Afterlives), 'Skin' takes a philosophical approach. It begins by looking at the skin as a frontier between the inside and the outside of the body. Early anatomists saw it as having little value and sought to flay it to reveal the workings of the body beneath.

The exhibition then moves to look at the skin as a living document: with tattoos, scars, wrinkles or various pathologies, our skin tells a story of our life so far. Finally, the skin is considered as a sensory organ of touch and as a delicate threshold between life and death.

Skin Lab, which features artistic responses to cutting-edge research and technological developments in skin science from the mid-20th century onwards, will complement the exhibition.

Image galleries

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A journey through history from early modern anatomy.

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With its wrinkles, colours, scars, spots and decorations, skin has been seen throughout history as a way to identify diseases.

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Skin is alive and allows us to interact with the world, indicating our emotions and giving us our sense of touch.

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A selection of Wellcome Library images from the 'Skin' exhibition.

More

Article

'Skin Lab' draws attention to recent cutting-edge research and technological developments in skin science from the mid-20th century onwards.

Video

This silent film from 1926 takes us through the basic physiology of the human skin.

Credits

Curator: Javier Moscoso.

Essays

Tattoo competition

Have you ever dreamed of getting a tattoo but are too afraid to actually go through with it?

To coincide with our 'Skin' exhibition, we have run a competition to design a tattoo for Caisa Ederyd, our willing, tattoo-obsessed volunteer.

The competition is now closed. We have narrowed the field down to a shortlist of ten designs. The winner will be revealed at our late-night opening on Thursday 22 July.

On the night, the winning design will be tattooed live on Caisa's body by Bruno Jardim of Pure Ink. The winner will also win a year’s free membership of the Wellcome Collection Club and the chance to get a tattoo done for free at Pure Ink.

Competition brief

One aspect that we consider in the 'Skin' exhibition is peeling back the layers of skin to discover what's beneath. We asked competition entrants to take this theme and let their imagination run wild with the anatomical workings of your body - to illustrate what's beneath our skin and display the internal on the external.

In her own words, Caisa advised: "I'd like it to have something to do with body organs such as hearts, lungs, guts and blood. This is because I think the inside of the body is interesting, beautiful and, sadly, because my dad died from a heart condition a few years ago."

Video

To coincide with our 'Skin' exhibition, we have run a competition to design a tattoo for Caisa Ederyd.

Image gallery

We have narrowed the field down to a shortlist of ten designs.