Caruso St John Architects

Location: London, UK
Client: The British Museum
Project Status: Exhibition Design

The exhibition, held in the temporary exhibition galleries at the British Museum, was the first to show the enormous range and depth of the medical collections of Sir Henry Wellcome, that comprised more than a million objects at the time of Wellcome’s death. The exhibition brought to public attention the material legacy of Henry Wellcome and explored the many ways different cultures have approached medicine and health throughout history.

It was the aim of the exhibition design to convey the themes and stories held within the artefacts, as well as the complexity and vast scale of the collection as a whole. Objects were gathered into simple, large vitrines, each of which exemplified a conceptual approach to classification and interpretation, conveying the idea of the museum and collecting itself. The densely-installed transparent vitrines were placed close together and strongly spot lit within a darkened room, to give the experience of standing amongst constellations of objects.  Elsewhere, seated visitors could listen with headphones to detailed narratives and histories of individual pieces.