Posts Tagged ‘macabre london’

London — By Andrea Kirkby on August 10, 2009 at 3:40 pm
Filed under: anatomy, macabre london, medical, wellcome collection

Gruesome show at the Wellcome Collection

There’s a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection till October 18 – ‘Exquisite Bodies’.

It’s gruesome. It’s grotesque. It’s really quite macabre.

Medical science needs to show how the body fits together, for students to learn. For instance, etchings and engravings in medical textbooks show anatomy precisely – what goes where.

But that’s not enough, really. You need it in 3D. So you get models of bodies, too. And that’s where the fun really starts. Models of separate body parts – diseased genitalia, half-developed foetuses, even heads. There are female dolls whose insides can be pulled out of their stomachs in a parody of a real disssection.

One of the heads, modelled by Joseph Towne of Guy’s Hospital, is so life-like and individual that it’s deeply worrying – spookily scowling from its glass jar. It’s actually intended to demonstrate the symptoms of syphilis.

While many of these models were intended for serious anatomical use, they’ve also been used by travelling entertainers and funfairs – gawking at them is nothing new. So you don’t need to feel embarrassed if you’ve only gone to take a look at them for a laugh, or for macabre thrills – people have been doing that for ages.

(You might be thinking that kids would love this collection. Alas, no. There’s rather too much gore – and too many gonads.)

It’s an intriguing exhibition. You might want to see it on an empty stomach, though!

Where: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, NW1 2BE – Euston Tube (map)

When: Tuesday to Staurday, 10-6 (till 10 on Thursdays), and Sunday 11-6

How much: free

Photo by Sarah G on flickr shows a mummy from the permanent collection

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