August 3, 2012
By Sandy Lee
On Wednesday, July 25, we went to London and visited the Wellcome Collection Museum. I found the it to be extremely intriguing. We visited two of the museums famous collections. First was Henry Wellcome’s collection of unique artifacts and the second was a collection of scientific breakthroughs that happened after Wellcome’s death in 1936.
Henry Wellcome was an entrepreneur who sold medical tools for a living. On the side, he was extremely interested in collecting strange and interesting artifacts. He was able to compile a large array of extraordinary and extremely fascinating objects ranging from surgical tools to Chinese and Japanese sex aids and dolls. Wellcome’s collection also included Napoleon’s toothbrush and a lock of George III’s hair. Wellcome even amassed a large collection of remarkable caricatures and interesting paintings.
I thought the paintings to be the most interesting of the collection. One painting particularly caught my eye. One of the paintings that I thought was quite interesting was this picture of a woman giving birth to a baby and surrounding the woman were babies, dead and alive.
In contrast to Wellcome’s collection was the Medicine Now exhibit which presented many of the scientific breakthroughs that occurred after Wellcome’s death in 1936. There were three main sections in this exhibit. In The Body exhibit, the body was presented in two different ways. One model was a 3-D model of the human body and each individual organ of the body lit up when a button associated with that specific organ was pressed. Another body model was a frontal cut of a plastinated body of a real donor body. To prepare the plastinated body, the body was drained of its liquids and a vacuum process was used to replace the organs with plastics that decay slowly. The sight of the plastinated body was quite remarkable and colorful.
In the Genomes section, there were many books that had the whole genome printed in them. It was very clever of the museum to print out the genome into the large numbers of books as these books really exemplify the complexity of the DNA.
I found the malaria and the obesity section to be the most interesting of them all. In the malaria section, there was a map of the world and upon a closer look at the map you will be able to see tiny mosquitoes making up the borders of the countries. In the description of the map, the artist actually took dead mosquitoes from Robert Sindan, who used the mosquitoes to conduct his research on malaria, to construct the map to show that malaria is not just a third world country problem but a global problem that we have to try and find a solution to.
In front of the mosquitoes map of the world is a giant obese human being model with no arms and head. The figure was quite life-like disregarding the fact that it had no head and arms. The model represents the problems often associated with obesity such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart problems. The two displays, the map and the obese figure are positioned right next to each other to show the disparity between the developed and developing world and how even though developed countries are well advanced, we still have our share of problems that continues to threaten our lives such as obesity.
Sandy Lee is from Walnut, California and is going to be a senior majoring in biological sciences. She is going to pursue her master’s degree in global medicine from the Keck School of Medicine next semester and hopes to finish by Spring 2013. She also hopes to pursue a career in medicine after obtaining her M.S. in global medicine.