For a new show opening today, the museum looks to present what it terms ‘a unique and idiosyncratic A to Z of the human condition’, showing objects it feels go some way to describing our existence throughout the ages.
The pieces on show range from the useful – such as glass eyes and Inuit snow goggles – to the surreal (a Nicobar Island figure) – to the dystopian, in Hieronymus Bosch’s terrifying image, The Garden of Earthly Delights: Allegory of Luxury.
Photography, medical artefacts, sculptures, paintings, manuscripts, audio-visual and ethnographic material will all be on show.
The Wellcome Collection says, ‘Each exhibit in the show tells a personal story that contributes to a general history of how we make sense of ourselves and our place in the world; how we have used and understood our bodies, in both sickness and health.
‘It is hoped these traces of other lives will inspire visitors to share some of their own.’
The show is split into section for each letter. Each display invites visitors to take part in a spin-off activity, including sharing a photo on Instagram and Twitter of a Cityscape, which will be displayed next to an illustrated view of the medieval urban landscape from a manuscript of the Nuremberg Chronicle – a book published in 1493 that follows the story of human history related in the Bible.
The exhibition’s curator Danielle Olsen says, ‘Rather than attempt to define the human condition, this A-Z gives an imperfect and impressionistic presentation.
‘Although the exhibition doesn’t reveal the meaning of life, it grapples with many of its questions and offers glimpses of how others have done so before.’
An Idiosyncratic A to Z of the Human Condition is at Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE from 24 June – 12 October