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Title: Cultures and networks of collecting : Henry Wellcome's collection
Author: Hill, Judith M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3578 3664
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2004
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DUring his lifetime, Henry Wellcome (1853-1936) amassed a substantial collection of artefacts dedicated to the understanding of the 'history of medidne and mankind' from an evolutionary perspective. In the few existing studies of this remarkable collection, the focus is generally upon Wellcome himself as the originator of the collection, and the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in London as its principal expression. This thesis takes a different approach, in which the collection is situated in a wider set of networks and relationships which have shaped, and continue to shape, its multiple lives in different times and places. This involves tradng the entanglements of the collection within diverse cultures and networks of collecting, from its establishment in Wellcome's lifetime, through its dispersal to other sites of re-collection, up to the present day. Theoretically, the first part of the thesis draws upon recent work on cultures of collecting, on the biographies of objects and material culture, and on the spatiality of collecting and collections (chapter 1). The second part of the thesis is concerned with the acquisition and management of the collection in the establishment phase of the collection. Chapter 2 considers the role of two notable curators who worked with Wellcome during this period. Chapter 3 examines the acquisition of objects in two contrasting spaces: the auction-house and collecting in the 'field'. The third part of the thesis addresses spaces of display. Chapter 4 considers the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in London, suggesting that it was not the straightforwardly sdentific evolutionary project that Wellcome himself envisaged. In chapter 5, the focus shifts to the transfer of objects from the Wellcome Collection in London to the Fowler Museum in UCLA, part of the dispersal of objects which took place after Wellcome's death (in this case in the 1960s). The final part of the thesis focuses spedfically on the biographies of selected objects within the Wellcome Collection; a set of Medicine Chests (chapter 6); and a group of amulets and a mask from Papua New Guinea (chapter 7). As well as highlighting the complex biographies of, and investments in, particular objects, this approach serves as a way of exploring wider aspects of the collection's multi-layered lives as these have developed over time and through space.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available