Wellcome to open founder's museum

June 9, 2006

The Wellcome Trust will be able to display its founder's vast collection of medical artefacts for the first time next summer, writes Anthea Lipsett.

A new £30 million six-storey venue near London's Euston Station will house some of Sir Henry Wellcome's treasure trove of medical oddities amassed during his lifetime. The building will house at least 1,500 exhibits in temporary and permanent exhibitions across three galleries, from Napoleon's toothbrush to 19th-century amputation saws.

It will challenge people's views of science, health and human identity through the ages, according to the trust.

Mark Walport, director of Wellcome, said: "Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936), the founder of the Wellcome Trust, was a pharmacist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and prolific collector. His passionate interest in medicine and its history led him to gather millions of objects from across the world.

"With more collecting power than the British Museum and more objects than the Louvre, Sir Henry's legacy lives on in these artefacts. His collection, as well as modern acquisitions, will provide opportunities to engage the public in debate about important contemporary issues concerning health, disease and wellbeing."

The trust's world-renowned library devoted to the history of medicine will be housed on the upper floors of the new building. Wellcome Collection will also have a cafe and members' club.

Ken Arnold, head of public programmes, said: "Wellcome Collection builds on our experience of running hugely popular exhibitions at the British Museum and Science Museum and provides a new public venue for collaborations with institutions in the UK and abroad."

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