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Medicine Man

Permanent exhibition

Japanese Buddhist shrine

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).

This exhibition is free. See opening hours. Some non-flash photography is permitted in this exhibition. See our photography policy.

Image gallery

Explore some of the objects you can see in Medicine Man, from porcelain sex fruit to a ram's head snuff box.