Our collections are built on collections assembled by Wellcome’s founder, Sir Henry Wellcome. In the early 20th century he founded a private historical medical museum, which, in common with others of the time, followed a racist, sexist and ableist system of cultural hierarchies. His successors collected books, manuscripts and paintings, and used these collections to present stories that privileged European medicine and the achievements of individual European scientists.
Our museum and library collections, some of which are jointly held with the Science Museum, include many items that were taken from the people who made them, by individuals who were able to do so because colonial structures of violence and control allowed them to.
We have a responsibility to be honest and transparent about the past injustices in which our collections are rooted, and we have begun a series of initiatives to change the ways we manage and use our collections.