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Superhuman Exhibition at Wellcome Collection

19 July 2012 -
16 October 2012

See event description

Wellcome Collection

Nearest Tube
Euston Square


Age Restrictions

From ancient Egyptian prostheses to futuristic nanotechnology, the Superhuman exhibition at Wellcome Collection examines the many ways in which we have sought to improve, adapt and enhance our bodies throughout history. The latest in a series of temporary shows at the Wellcome Collection that seek to explore and understand themes in medical history, Superhuman is the venue's major exhibition over the summer of 2012.

Humans plus
Bringing together over 100 exhibits that encompass artworks, medical objects, videos, photographs and other artefacts, the Superhuman exhibition at Wellcome Collection is a testimony to the seemingly boundless human desire to improve and enhance our body's performance. The show explores traditions of physical and chemical enhancement and also takes a wider look at the science, myths and cultural reception of body extension.

Everyday marvels
Opening with a playful examination of what constitutes a body enhancement, the Superhuman exhibition at Wellcome Collection includes everyday objects such as false teeth, sex aids, iPhones and glasses. While exhibits such as Vivienne Westwood's Super Elevated Ghillie shoes might bestow benefits such as increased height, they also carry the risk of unwelcome side effects, such as twisted ankles. Other artefacts on show, such as contraceptive implants, have become so commonplace it's perhaps easy to forget that we are all, to some extent, modified superhumans.

Other areas of the Superhuman exhibition at Wellcome Collection include a number of prosthetics, which have over time been used both as enabling devices for the wearers as well as salves for society's unease over missing body parts. Examples include a 19th century silver nose attached to spectacles for women disfigured by syphilis, as well as the clumsy prosthetics developed in the mid 20th century for children affected by Thalidomide.

Super athletes
As the eyes of the world turn to London for the Olympic Games, Superhuman also looks at the history of adaptations made in the quest for athletic advantage. From Nike's early waffle sole trainers and isotonic drinks to blade legs and a false penis used to cheat doping tests by delivering a clean urine sample, there's plenty of thought provoking exhibits that explore the various ways we have manipulated our bodies in pursuit of sporting glory.

Bigger, better...
As well as all the medical artefacts, the Superhuman exhibition also features a display of Marvel and DC Comics, where both super heroes and villains display an extraordinary range of heightened powers and senses. The original editions on show feature well known figures such as The Invincible Iron Man and Spider-Man, as well as characters such as Dr Octopus, the Savage She Hulk, Deathlok the Demolisher and The Flash.

The Superhuman exhibition at Wellcome Collection takes place from Thursday 19th July - Tuesday 16th October 2012. Admission is free.

Opening hours are 10am - 6pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10am - 10pm Thursday; 11am - 6pm Sunday; 12pm - 6pm public holidays. Please note that the galleries are closed on Mondays.

Image: i-limb ultra prosthetic hand, courtesy of Touch Bionics

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