Glastonbury decontamination

Almost inevitably, it looks like its going to be another very muddy Glastonbury again this year.

But as part of the Wellcome Trust’s Dirt season of events and exhibitions, the museum is hosting a Decontamination Unit inside the festival’s Shagri-La area alongside Guerrilla Science, a slightly frightening crew of science fanatics that bring their passion to festivals.

Guerrilla Science - a bit scary
Guerrilla Science – a bit scary

The Unit aims to ‘cleans revellers physically and psychologically during the festival’ – a tricky feat when you take into account a weekend of excessive drinking, ill thought-out amorous liaisons, chemical toilets, let alone the weather forecast.

But it’s more than just mud that the unit aims to clean. A spokesman from Guerrilla Science says, ’Shangri-La this year will be stricken by an outbreak of a virus that can be spread via touch, contaminating all who come into contact with it. Alleys will be covered in invisible UV paint, creating a visual means to “infect” thousands of people, and creating two groups: the contaminated and the clean. The only way to achieve purity, cleanliness and salvation is through the Decontamination Unit.’

Scary stuff!

Once in the Unit, guests will enter a ‘microbial zoo’ – filled with the flora and fauna of the human body. Some of the dirty will be led to counselling with a team of psychiatrists, led by Dr Mark Salter of Homerton Hospital in Hackney. Guests will be led through the ‘Shame Drain’, where they will be able to expel their dirty secrets to a voice recorder positioned inside a black box.

Those not selected for psychiatric cleansing by the team of high-vis scientists will be clad in a biohazard suit and for a gold-old fashioned decontamination. After heading through a series of cleansing chambers, the psychologically and physically shiny will exit through The Skywalk onto the pristine second level of Shangri-La.


Dr Amy Sanders, Special Projects Manager at Wellcome Trust,  says, ‘When I first started thinking about where we should take the Wellcome Trust Dirt season, Glastonbury seemed an obvious choice: organisers and visitors have to deal with copious mud and dust, limited showers and loos, and numerous humans (and their germs) in close proximity.’

‘It’s one of those rare occasions when most of us are confronted with our own, and others’, bodily dirt -what better place to get people thinking about our complex relationship with it?.’

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