The Wellcome Collection and Assemble explore humanity in the age of AI

21 February 2019

Friendship Bench (Courtesy of Rainer Kwiotek)

We are currently in a state of dramatic and unprecedented flux. As we enter the fourth industrial revolution of tech and AI, how much do we really know about what’s next? And how will a changing environment change us?

This September the Wellcome Collection will open a permanent space that seeks to answer some of these questions, presenting unique insights into health, science, art and medicine in the 21st century. Organised thematically, the space will explore subjects ranging from human connections to climate change to infectious diseases.

Working with architecture collective Assemble, the space will incorporate objects that demonstrate the power of technology in our current moment. They include a juke box of contemporary songs about epidemics, a DNA sequencer smaller than an iPhone, and a Friendship Bench – an intervention developed in Zimbabwe which is transforming mental health across the world by taking counselling outside the clinic.

Speaking about it, Clare Barlow, Project Curator of the Wellcome Collection, says: “There is no single way to be human and we have many complex thoughts and feelings about our bodies, our identities and our impact on the world and on each other. The objects we’re bringing together in this new display will explore a wide range of perspectives – artists, activists, researchers, disabled people and people with diverse experiences of health. It’s exciting to be collaborating with Assemble to tell a more person-centred story through inclusive design and a handmade aesthetic.”

The gallery space opens this September and replaces Medicine Now, which will be closing after 12 years. There’ll be more information to come this Spring.


Medicine Now (Courtesy of the Wellcome Collection)


The Transparent Woman (Courtesy of the Wellcome Collection)

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Kieran Yates

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