Wellcome Collection

Wellcome Collection The free museum and library that aims to challenge how we all think and feel about health. Do ask questions, comment on posts and share your thoughts.
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Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library that aims to challenge how we all think and feel about health. Our online content aims to create opportunities for people to make connections between science, medicine, life and art. We want to spark conversation, inspire debate and encourage you to share your personal perspectives on human health and experience. But don’t be rude, hateful or insult

ing. Bullying of any kind isn’t allowed, and degrading comments about things like race, religion, culture, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity won’t be tolerated. We reserve the right to remove any material that we feel is inappropriate and we will ban individuals who persistently ignore these rules. If you notice any inappropriate comments, send us a message or report directly to Facebook. Find out more about Wellcome Collection: wellcome.info/About-Us

This is a makeup pallet from ancient Egyptian times, and was used nearly 4000 years ago 💅 Made from aragonite (a mineral...
19/04/2024

This is a makeup pallet from ancient Egyptian times, and was used nearly 4000 years ago 💅

Made from aragonite (a mineral normally found in pearls), each of its seven wells was used to hold a different cosmetic ointment.

The faded hieroglyphics markings were used to indicate the substance held in each divot (though their meanings would be difficult to make out as they've now been worn away).

We don't know who used to own the slab, but judging by spots that have been worn down, it looks like the owner was likely right-handed.

Come take a look at it in person – it's currently on display at our exhibition, The Cult of Beauty which closes in one week on 28 April.

[Alt text: A photo of an item on display at The Cult of Beauty. The object itself is a slab made from an ivory-like material. It's mostly rectangular, but with a slanted edge where the top-right corner would be. There are seven hollow, finger-shaped holes at the top, and beneath each one there are hieroglyphics marked faintly in a slightly darker ink.]

Image credit: Stone slab with seven holes for cosmetic ointments, Egypt, 1991-1786 BCE. MADE: 1991-1786 BCE in Egypt. Science Museum Group.

https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co84606/stone-slab-with-seven-holes-for-cosmetic-ointments-egypt-1991-1786-bce-ointment-slab.

17/04/2024

When we feel anxious, disconnected or alienated from our bodies, we can’t appreciate the beauty of what they can do. As Emma Dabiri puts it: “The greater connection I have to my body the more pleasure I can take in it.”

To find out more about how you can reconnect with your own joyful, disobedient body, grab a copy of Emma’s book in our shop, online or at your nearest book store: wellcome.info/Buy-Disobedient-Bodies

[Alt text: This video shows Emma Dabiri, Irish-Nigerian author of Disobedient Bodies which was published by us in 2023, sitting on our Reading Room’s iconic red stairs. Her hair is braided and long, and she wears a pink top and black skirt].

This is one of many ancient representations of Hermaphroditus, a god of male and female s*x, whose creation story is mos...
15/04/2024

This is one of many ancient representations of Hermaphroditus, a god of male and female s*x, whose creation story is most famously told by Latin poet Ovid.

That such a lovely, languorous figure should have a p***s has often unsettled modern viewers. Collector Henry Blundell (1724-1810) violently censored his Hermaphroditus. He writes: 'By means of a little castration... it became a sleeping Venus. This version too appears to have been deliberately made gender binary.

This work is in our Cult of Beauty exhibition (which is in its final weeks 🏃‍♂️ ). Plan your visit at wellcome.info/cult-of-beauty

Alt text: Dozing rather than sleeping, Hermaphroditus is propped up on their left elbow, their face resting on their folded right forearm that’s placed on a marble pillow. Towards the base of the skull, their hair is in short ringlets. Their left knee is drawn up such that the calf crosses the shin of the right leg. A sheet is tangled around one elbow and rucked up beneath the body, pooling by their bare feet. The sheet is draped on a buttoned mattress which is depicted with such realism that it looks as though you could bounce on it.

Credit: Sleeping Hermaphroditus, original, 2nd century CE . Wellcome Collection / Science Museum Group

The lengths we go to to look good eh? 💋 Our temporary exhibition, The Cult of Beauty, explores in greater detail the his...
12/04/2024

The lengths we go to to look good eh? 💋

Our temporary exhibition, The Cult of Beauty, explores in greater detail the historical, cultural and - sometimes - medical influences of our current-day beauty products.

It closes for good in 2 weeks though, so make sure you come visit before the 28th April 🏃‍♂️

wellcome.info/cult-of-beauty

[Alt text: We're looking at a photo showing two women wearing rubber masks that supposedly helped to remove wrinkles and blemishes. One is sitting at a desk, writing something on a typewriter, and the other is standing beside the lady sat down, crouched over her shoulder watching her type.]

Credit: Rubber beauty masks, worn to remove wrinkles and blemishes; modelled by two women at a typewriter. Photograph, ca. 1921. Date: 1921 Reference: 565924i

08/04/2024

Social media has facilitated a huge increase in representation, yet so many young people still feel under pressure when it comes to their appearances.

That's why it’s never been more important to reclaim beauty for ourselves, says Emma Dabiri.

In her new book, Disobedient Bodies, Dabiri encourages unruliness, exploring the ways in which we can 'do' beauty differently. Through personal essays, she gives alternative ways of seeing beauty, drawing on other cultures, worldviews, times and places that can help us find the inherent joy in our disobedient bodies.

Buy Emma Dabiri's book here: wellcome.info/Buy-Disobedient-Bodies

[Alt text: Irish-Nigerian author Emma Dabiri is sitting on a step of the Reading Room’s red-carpeted staircase in Wellcome Collection. As she discusses the differences between the sort of bodies that populated the media in her youth and the huge increase in representation generated by social media, we see B-roll footage featuring artworks in the Cult of Beauty exhibition appear on screen.

The first installation we see is An Algorithmic Gaze II by Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrom – a video work of a naked body that morphs into different shapes, sizes, skin colours, and genders. This animation has been created using artificial intelligence, an algorithm trained on datasets of human models.

The next artwork is a painting called Steam, The Bully Pulpit. It forms part of a series where US artist Haley Morris-Cafiero turns hate comments she’s received online into staged photographic works. In this particular work, she is seen taking a selfie in a bathroom mirror with prosthetics moulded to her nose and torso, to give her the appearance of a larger nose and six pack. Written in the fogged mirror are the words: “You’re fat and gross. Your arms make me want to puke.”]

03/04/2024

What did Renaissance women do for skincare?

Multi-step beauty routines may sound modern, but their origins go back centuries, to when women experimented with a range of ingredients - including mutton fat. What’s more, it actually smells kind of nice!

This work is in The Cult of Beauty exhibition, open until 28 April and free to visit. For more info, head to Wellcome.info/cult-of-beauty

Watch the full video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85qX5O-ylkk&t=75s

[Alt text: Philosophy Tube founder Abigail Thorn is in the Cult of Beauty exhibition, where she walks into the Beauty Sensorium – a large glass installation housed in an enclosed space. The room itself is covered in a richly detailed wallpaper, a collage of images taken from historic paintings and prints, containing scenes of women in Renaissance apothecaries and home kitchens. The installation itself is made up of glass vessels shaped like bulbs and gourds, lit from within, oozing and bubbling with liquids of varying viscosities.]

"'You don’t look autistic.' The number of times I’ve heard that – I mean, what am I supposed to look like?! Nobody quest...
02/04/2024

"'You don’t look autistic.' The number of times I’ve heard that – I mean, what am I supposed to look like?! Nobody questions a man when they say they’re autistic; the reaction would be more, 'Let’s see how we can help you.' But with a woman, it’s 'Well, you’ve managed so far…'." - Hannah

When a woman discloses she’s autistic, the reaction can range from comments like these to straight up denial, “No you’re not.”

For many years there has been a persistent untruth that autism is rare in girls and women. The use of classic autistic male characteristics for diagnostic parameters has meant that generations of women have been overlooked and often arrive at a diagnosis decades after their male counterparts.

In 2022, photographer Rosie Barnes opened the floor to a group of autistic women, interviewing them and taking a moving series of portraits, which you can see here in this article: wellcome.info/no-youre-not

[Alt text: we are looking at a portrait of Hannah: a white woman with blonde hair standing beside a car with her arm resting on the hood of the car, sleeves partially rolled up. She is wearing jeans, a pink sweatshirt and looks directly towards the camera. In Hannah's interview with Barnes, she says "I’ve always loved cars. Cars, space, history and reading. I’ve no interest in hair, make-up, shopping or going out for lunch. I seem to have honed in on a masculine environment. I’d rather roll my sleeves up and work on my cars."]

Credit: Hannah. © Rosie Barnes for Wellcome Collection.

This ad for "Why you should give your children cocoa" feels like it was written by a plucky kid making an argument for w...
30/03/2024

This ad for "Why you should give your children cocoa" feels like it was written by a plucky kid making an argument for why they should get chocolate.

And you know what... We're convinced 🍫

[Alt text: We're looking at an ad for Rowntree's Cocoa, which we think was produced sometime between 1920 and 1929. It describes the product as "an almost ideal food" which has "the essential food elements which build tissue and provide bodily energy and warmth." It also claims that the amount of fat offers "complete nourishing value" and provides "an easily digested product".]

https://wellcomecollection.org/works/ybhw28e6/items?canvas=4

The cocoa the children like : Rowntree's Cocoa : famous for flavour / Rowntree & Co. Ltd. In copyright. Source: Wellcome Collection.

29/03/2024

Hair is not just hair. There’s so much more to it than that.

The hairstyles captured in this video don’t just tell us about the wearer’s personal preferences, or what they find beautiful. They can also speak to their personal histories, their relationship status, their values and morals.

Join as she discusses the cultural significance of hair via the works of J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, and the oft-forgotten part that pin-tail combs play in styling them.

[Alt text: Irish-Nigerian author Emma Dabiri is sitting on a sofa in Wellcome Collection’s Reading Room, in front of a red-carpeted staircase. She has a make-up case with her, and pulls out a pintail comb. As she goes on to talk about J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere’s work, B-roll imagery of his photographs appear on screen. Each of the black and white photographs shows the back of the head of a Black woman, her hair either threaded or braided into magnificent sculptural shapes.

The first photo, Mkpuk Eba, shows a younger woman, her hair bound into 7 pompoms that stand up evenly around her head.

The next photo, and perhaps the most complex hairstyle is subtitled Abebe. Here, from a centre parting down the back of the head the hair is braided in flat cornrows following the shape of the skull, up over the ears. Thicker braids, probably hair extensions, are coiled on the crown of the head and tumble down making a waterfall of thick black hair.

In the last photo, Onile Gogoro Or Akaba, the hair is separated and coiled into about twelve uprights like dowels of wood. These are twisted into a circle at the top, making a crown of hair, standing proudly on the head of its owner.

Many of these styles became known by their nicknames, which emerged from either the geographic area they came from, or from the natural and manmade forms they imitated including pineapples, crabs, suspension bridges or tower blocks.]

Friends – this day next month, The Cult of Beauty closes *forever* at Wellcome Collection. If you've yet to pass through...
28/03/2024

Friends – this day next month, The Cult of Beauty closes *forever* at Wellcome Collection.

If you've yet to pass through those iconic pink curtains, then here's what to expect in the final weeks:

– Weekends are very busy, so we may give you a timed ticket or ask you to queue (but trust us, it'll be worth the wait).
– If you like a quieter museum experience, then we recommend going during the week, especially mornings.
– And if you're thinking you'd love to visit but can't find time, then don't forget we stay open late on Thursdays 😉

Plan your visit and find out more at wellcome.info/cult-of-beauty

And in the meantime, we can’t wait to see your lovely smiling faces 💘

[Alt text: A photograph of the glass-fronted exterior of our exhibition. The words "The Cult of Beauty" are visible agains a background of soft pink curtains.]

This banner was created to protest attempts to lay oil pipelines through Native American territories, which would potent...
22/03/2024

This banner was created to protest attempts to lay oil pipelines through Native American territories, which would potentially have polluted rivers.

Created by Isaac Murdoch, he carried this banner to protests at Standing Rock, USA. He is part of the Onaman Collective, a group of indigenous artists and environmentalists.

[Alt text: We're looking at a linen banner with a print in black, displayed in our permanent exhibition Being Human. The title reads: "Water is life" and beneath it, there is a print of a Thunderbird Woman – a symbol of power, protection and strength. The figure has a thin oval head with sprouting feathers, and a heart shape in the centre of her chest.]

Credit: Water Is Life Isaac Murdoch Linen banner, 2016

21/03/2024

Now open - ‘Jason and the Adventure of 254’ 👀

A new exhibition at Wellcome Collection by the wonderful Jason Wilsher-Mills.

Jason transforms our gallery with this colourful, hands-on installation exploring creativity, disability, and childhood memory. The exhibition features monumental sculptures, illustrations, interactive dioramas, and more.

It’s immersive, accessible, and free - and it’s for everyone.

Plan your visit at wellcome.info/jason-wilsher-mills, and if there’s anything you want to talk through before you visit, please send us a DM 📮

[Alt text: a video introducing the exhibition and showcasing some of the vibrantly colourful, playfully imagined characters that inhabit Jason Wilsher-Mills’ art. One of them points up at the symbols for wheelchair-access, audio-description, British Sign Language provision, and hearing loop services, all of which are available in the gallery. For more information on access at Wellcome Collection, visit our website.]

“People will say, ‘But you’re not autistic,’ and I think, well, you haven’t seen me standing in the aisle in Sainsbury’s...
19/03/2024

“People will say, ‘But you’re not autistic,’ and I think, well, you haven’t seen me standing in the aisle in Sainsbury’s sobbing my heart out, rooted to the spot, unable to speak or explain to anyone what’s wrong. It’s an area that urgently needs researching – there are a lot of elderly autists who are suffering terribly. Women particularly.” – Alison

Many late-diagnosed autistics have spent a long portion of their lives without the knowledge that they were neurodivergent.

Neurodivergence is an umbrella-term used to describe characteristics of the human brain such as Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, or Tourette’s.

In the case of Autism, its long-standing medical association with young children, particularly young men and boys, has meant that generations of adults and elders have been left without an appropriate diagnosis or support.

This Neurodiversity Celebration Week, we're looking back at the work of photographer Rosie Barnes, who opened the floor to a group of autistic women in 2022 in this series of interviews and portraits, changing the narrative that there is only one way to be human.

Read the article at wellcome.info/no-youre-not

[Alt-text: In the first photo, we are looking at a portrait of Alison, a white woman with a walking cane and her daughter Lex, who is sitting next to Alison in their garden. Alison is wearing a long orange cardigan and is looking straight at the camera, while Lex, who is wearing a blue hoodie, looks directly at her mother. In the second photo, we see Alison seated with her hands clasped atop her walking cane and head slightly turned to the left.]

Image credits:
Alison and Lex. © Rosie Barnes for Wellcome Collection.
Alison. © Rosie Barnes for Wellcome Collection.

Words by Joana, placement student at Wellcome Collection

18/03/2024

Does your beauty belong to someone else?

Join Abigail Thorn who explores an etching from our collection, ‘Husbands bringing their ugly wives to the windmill to be transformed into beautiful ones’ and explains what it says about 17th century attitudes to women’s beauty.

The Cult of Beauty is open until 28 April and is free to visit. For more info, head to Wellcome.info/cult-of-beauty

Watch the full video with Abigail Thorn on YouTube: https://wellcome.info/43mdtr8

[Alt text: Philosophy Tube founder Abigail Thorn is in The Cult of Beauty exhibition at Wellcome Collection. She is dressed in a pin-striped suit and is pointing out details in the etching as she describes various details in it. It shows a man carrying an old lady on his shoulders up to a room inside a windmill, where women are somehow magically transformed to become younger and more beautiful versions of themselves before being shoved unceremoniously out of a hole at the back of the windmill.]

Credit: Husbands bringing their ugly wives to a windmill, to be transformed into beautiful women, Paulus Fürst, 1650. Wellcome Collection.

WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing, also known as WET Magazine, was founded in California and overseen by Leonard Kore...
14/03/2024

WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing, also known as WET Magazine, was founded in California and overseen by Leonard Koren from 1976 to 1981.

Famous for its depiction of fashion, art and culture through anything related to the ‘art of bathing’, the magazine became iconic for its creative outlook on the ritual of taking a bath 🛁

Through its pages, images of hot tubs, pools and bathing suits tell a history of the so-called ‘gourmet bathing’ focused on appreciation of unconventional ways of portraying a body, absurdity and fun.

Initially a four-page black-and-white publication, WET evolved to incorporate colorful covers and a unique graphic style that defied conventional design with its often asymmetrical layout and focus on the visual rather than textual. WET famously captured surreal subjects, celebrities and provocative scenes.

Alt text 1: We're looking at an image of the Wet Magazine 23rd issue cover. It's a collage of a face showing a pair of wide-open dark brown eyes with shimmering violet eyeshadow. Below are lips covered with lip gloss. In the background, we see a drawing of a bathroom with pastel-yellow tiles and a bath with water running from the tap.

Alt text 2: We are looking at the 6th issue cover with a blue-and-white photograph of people next to a swimming pool. A woman in a bikini is sitting on the edge of the pool, looking up at the camera. Her eyes are closed and she looks as if she is enjoying the sunlight while sunbathing. On her right, we see a pair of legs on a sunbed while a figure is seen diving into the water in the background.

Alt text 3: We are looking at the 25th issue cover with an image of a small white dog with black ears. Its eyes are dark brown, wide-open and they're staring at the camera.

Alt text 4: The cover of the 24th issue of the WET magazine with a photograph of Priscilla Presley posing for the cover of the WET magazine against a striped background. She is holding a popsicle while smiling and posing with her tongue out. Her hair is loose and shiny while falling on her naked shoulders.

Credit: WET Magazine © copyright Leonard Koren.

If we told you drinking a daily tonic of liquid gold would keep you looking youthful forever – would you do it? For 16th...
13/03/2024

If we told you drinking a daily tonic of liquid gold would keep you looking youthful forever – would you do it?

For 16th century French courtier, Diane de Poitiers, the answer was a resounding yes. Like many of that period, she believed that drinking liquid gold would help her to retain her beauty and prolong her youth. 💆‍♀️

Though few were rich enough to actually try it, Poitiers could afford to consume vast quantities of drinkable gold.

She drank so much of it that forensic examination of her hair suggests that it had a detrimental effect on her health, and was likely what killed her.

To this day, gold continues to be associated with everlasting beauty, and remains an ingredient used in many present-day beauty products marketed and sold for its supposed anti-ageing properties.

[Alt text: We're looking at a black-and-white drawing of a woman in her bed chamber, being attended to by two female assistants. Judging by the room she is in – with its statues, ornaments and ornate decor – she is likely quite wealthy. Diane, the one being attended to, is sat in a white dress in front of a vanity mirror and is having her hair brushed by one of her assistants.]

https://wellcomecollection.org/works/y8yf3w64/images?id=mg6r2r3x

Image: Diane de Poitiers, in her bed-chamber in the Château de Chenonceau, having her hair dressed by a female assistant; another woman stands to the left; a small child and a dog are in the foreground. Lithograph by L. Haghe, 1841, after W.J. Müller. Müller, William James, 1812-1845. Date: [1841] Reference: 31049i

11/03/2024

Corsets weren’t just for women – they were also worn by some men too.

This 19th century fashion trend was part of a wider phenomenon known as “dandyism”, a term used to describe certain men of that period. Broadly speaking, these men prized physical appearance, personal grooming, refined language and leisurely hobbies.

However, it is thought that only a small minority of men took to the trend, as dandyism was perceived as being vain, and at odds with Victorian ideals of masculinity.

Learn more about corsetry's unexpected history at The Cult of Beauty, our 5-star exhibition running until 28 April 🪄

https://wellcomecollection.org/exhibitions/ZJ1zCxAAACMAczPA

[Alt text: We’re watching , YouTuber and dress historian, discuss a lesser-known aspect of corset history – male corsets. She’s sitting in Wellcome Collection’s Reading Room. And as she describes 19th century male shapewear, B-roll footage of etchings appear on screen. One shows two valets helping to tighten the waist of a young officer’s corset. The other shows a dandy and his two servants in a similar situation, except the corset wearer is also wearing shoulder pads – an accoutrement that helped to achieve the padded upper-body look that was popular among dandies at the time.]

Louisa Martindale (1872–1966) was a doctor who loved cars, x-rays and women.In her life, she was well known for her rese...
08/03/2024

Louisa Martindale (1872–1966) was a doctor who loved cars, x-rays and women.

In her life, she was well known for her research on the treatment of uterine fibroids through x-rays and she worked tirelessly on behalf of her patients in Hull and Brighton.

In spite of her medical accomplishments, contemporaries noted her ‘woman centric’ lifestyle, with three women being particularly influential on her life: her mother; her mentor, and her partner.

Her mother, a suffragist of the same name, decided she should become a doctor, supporting her studies at the London School of Medicine and travelling with her to medical talks across Europe.

Against her mother’s wishes, Martindale became an assistant to Dr Mary Murdoch in Hull and the two women became good friends, caring for patients and holidaying together in their spare time.

‘Murdie’ (as Martindale refers to Murdoch in her notebooks) was a keen though exceptionally poor driver. She crashed frequently and needed to be rescued from ditches more than once. Despite this, Martindale *still* went on ‘Motor Tours’ with her.

But perhaps the most significant figure was a woman named Ismay FitzGerald, who she met after moving to Brighton. Martindale described her as ‘very unusual looking and beautiful’.

And when FitzGerald’s mother died she wrote, ‘I invited her to come to me for a fortnight, with the result that she stayed thirty five years.’ They travelled widely together, and at one point visited Italy and met the pope.

Martindale helped set up the Lewes Road Dispensary for Women and Children during her life, and became increasingly interested in the potential for using x-rays in healthcare. Her research on this topic became widely known and she was invited to give talks across the USA and Europe to medical students.

After a busy career in medicine, Martindale retired in 1947, shortly after the death of FitzGerald. Though surrounded by friends, she lived alone until her death in 1966.

https://wellcomecollection.org/works/xkx2hepu

Credit: Portrait of Louisa Martindale. President of the Med. Womens Fed. (1930-1932). Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). Source: Wellcome Collection.

In the 16th century, long before women in STEM was a thing, there were women in apothecaries, quietly advancing our know...
07/03/2024

In the 16th century, long before women in STEM was a thing, there were women in apothecaries, quietly advancing our knowledge of chemistry and botany.

Women of that period had a sophisticated understanding of the natural materials they used. They organised vessels and recipe manuals very similarly to how a contemporary soft matter scientist would - that is, according to their fluid properties.

And while many women made a living selling medicines and cosmetics, and sometimes even ran apothecary shops themselves, poorer women might sell homemade products made in their kitchen to friends and neighbours, or peddle them in markets.

If you’re London-based, come see this painting at The Cult of Beauty, our latest exhibition running until 28th April.

Find out more at wellcome.info/cult-of-beauty

[Alt text: This particular image shows the inside of an apothecary shop, with jars of medical ingredients neatly arranged on shelves. A female assistant is taking a break from making a prescription to look at a monkey holding up an upturned urine flask.]

Credit: A woman in a pharmacy with a urine flask and a monkey holding an empty flask at a casement. Oil painting by Willem Joseph Laquy, 1780 (?), after J. Toorenvliet, 1677. Toornvliet, Jacob, 1635-1719. Date: 1780. Reference: 47376i

https://wellcomecollection.org/works/mnegnba7/items

Created by London-based Iranian artist, Shirin Fathi, this self-portrait examines the role the plastic surgeon plays in ...
06/03/2024

Created by London-based Iranian artist, Shirin Fathi, this self-portrait examines the role the plastic surgeon plays in defining beauty standards – in this case, the perfect nose.

Iran has the greatest number of rhinoplasties (nose surgeries) in the world. Many hope to have this procedure, and it is often openly discussed between generations.

This self-portrait of defiance – The Disobedient Nose – is part of a series of photographs about a "nose that doesn't want to be tamed."

"My hope is that this project gives back a sense of agency to the viewer, when it comes to deciding what is beautiful in bodies," Fathi says.

Come see some of this photo in its real-life glory at The Cult of Beauty, our exhibition running until 28 April.

[Alt text: We're looking at a photo of a person set against a plain beige background. They have a short crop of hair, and are wearing a white muslin gown. The figure's face is turned to the right, and the side of their nose is made up to create the illusion of the nose cut open, as if for a surgery. Scarlet thread and a peach and red-coloured sponge mimic muscles and skin tissue, and a flower petal is stuck onto the tip of the nose, its pinks and greens evoking cartilage. The figure’s unsmiling lips are pale pink.]

Credit: The Disobedient Nose, دماغ نافرمان: Fig. 2. Sketches of rhinoplasty performed by me, Shirin Fathi, 2022, United Kingdom, Photographic print, Courtesy of the artist

04/03/2024

Have you ever been made to feel guilty or silly for taking pride in your appearance?

If you have, you’re not alone. People carry all sorts of associations when it comes to certain looks or beauty ideals – and it can sometimes have far-reaching conclusions.

Join Emma Dabiri as she delves into what we got wrong about the Auxerre Goddess, and how our attitudes and assumptions around beauty may have played a part.

The Auxerre Goddess is on display at our Cult of Beauty exhibition, on until 28 April. For more info, visit wellcome.info/cult-of-beauty

Watch the full video with Emma Dabiri on YouTube: https://wellcome.info/48HfL5j

[Alt text: Irish-Nigerian author Emma Dabiri is sitting on a sofa in Wellcome Collection’s Reading Room, in front of a red-carpeted staircase. She has a make-up case with her, and pulls out some red lipstick. As she goes on to describe the story that was constructed around the Auxerre Goddess, some B-roll footage appears showing a reproduction of the original statue discovered in a storage vault in Paris in the 1900s. It was initially presumed that this statue depicted a white woman with a “natural” look – i.e. without makeup. However, the next bit of B-roll shows the restored version of the Auxerre statue. This version, restored with the help of new technologies, has an olive complexion and is wearing dark eyeliner and bright red lipstick.]

Credit: Auxerre Goddess, and Auxerre Goddess restored, original c.640 BC, Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge

“I wanted to explore the heritage of these young women by looking into what parts of Africa they were from," says Cyndia...
28/02/2024

“I wanted to explore the heritage of these young women by looking into what parts of Africa they were from," says Cyndia Harvey, Jamaican-born British hairstylist.

"Tracing as far back as I could to find out how the women of each tribe wore their hair historically, [I then recreated] those hairstyles in ways I imagined the styles could have evolved.”

This Hair of Mine is a film about the significance of hair, featuring the hairstyles you see here, as well as the reflections of those wearing them. British young people of the African diaspora share how hairstyles thread them into a legacy of pride and belonging, connecting them to each other and the land of their heritage.

You can watch the film at our exhibition, The Cult of Beauty on till 28th April.

[Alt text: We're looking at a carousel of photos, each showing a Black woman wearing a different hairstyle. The first shows the side profile of a woman with hair died white, with sections of hair wrapped in white cotton threads, forming ten points rising from her scalp. The second photo shows a person's hair separated into two sections, with two bunches wrapped in what looks like two leather straps. The last photo shows a woman's hair died blond, with delicate braids converging towards the crown of her head, which has been left unbraided.]

"This Hair of Mine" courtesy of Cyndia Harvey (artist), Akinola Davies Jr (filmmaker), 2017, United Kingdom.

26/02/2024

Q: You're living in Victorian times and it's time for a tea break – but how do you keep your moustache dry?

A: Obviously you'd use a teacup with a moustache guard. Victorian ingenuity 🥸

If you’re London-based, come see a moustache guard in its real-life glory at The Cult of Beauty, our 5-star exhibition running until 28th April 2024

https://wellcome.info/cult-of-beauty

And to find out more about the Victorian gentleman’s grooming routine, head to our YouTube for our full-length tutorial with Dominic Skinner, and watch him transform into the spitting image of his great great uncle, Thomas Hardy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBRPqbiZs6U&t=34s&ab_channel=WellcomeCollection

[Video alt text: We see Dominic Skinner – makeup artist and judge on the BBC show Glow Up – seated on a stool against a blue background and drinking from a pink cup while a make-up artist preens his scalp]

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WELLCOME COLLECTION

We are a free museum and library, located in central London, that aims to challenge how people think and feel about health.

Through exhibitions, collections, live programming, digital, broadcast and publishing, we create opportunities for people to think deeply about the connections between science, medicine, life and art. All our exhibitions and most of our events are free and open to everyone.

We are part of the Wellcome Trust, which exists to improve health by helping great ideas to thrive. We support researchers, we take on big health challenges, we campaign for better science, and we help everyone get involved with science and health research. We are a politically and financially independent foundation.


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