Curious Bites

A Brief History of The Wellcome Collection

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A Brief History of The Wellcome Collection
Photo Mike Massaro

The Wellcome Trust’s “Recipes and Remedies” events have been created to share hand-written recipe books from the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries to a wider audience.

In 1880 Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome partnered his college friend Silas Burroughs to set up the pharmaceutical company Burroughs, Wellcome & Co. Among the first to distribute medicine in tablet form, the company flourished under Wellcome's leadership following Burroughs's death in 1895.

When Wellcome died in 1936, his will vested the entire share capital of his company in trustees charged with spending the money to further human and animal health. The Wellcome Trust is now the largest non-governmental source of funds for biomedical research in the UK, with an endowment of around £13.9billion.

In 1995, Burroughs, Wellcome & Co. was sold to Glaxo PLC, it's biggest rival, to form GlaxoWellcome. The name disappeared from pharmaceuticals altogether in 2000 when GlaxoWellcome merged with SmithKline Beecham to form GlaxoSmithKline.

An extensive and enthusiastic traveller, Wellcome collected a huge number of medical and archeological artefacts, many of which are now part of the permanent Medicine Man exhibition housed at The Wellcome Collection on London's Euston Road. The Collection also hosts Medicine Now, which presents aspects of modern medicine using art, objects and mixed media displays, and has a constantly changing exhibition space to stimulate the most curious mind.

Helen Wakely, archivist at The Wellcome Collection, organised the Recipes and Remedies events to expose a number of hand-written recipe books from sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century to a wider audience.

«We've got all these fantastic sources here and we wanted to make sure they were looked at by as many people as possible, not just academics,» Helen said.

The events included a presentation from Stefan Gates on his ideas about the future of food, as well as explorations into controlling appetite, balancing food production, availability and education and determining whether breast milk really is the best source of nutrition for babies.

The regular Supper Salon events give visitors more opportunity to discuss ideas over dinner and wine.

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