Chocolate? Coffee? Coke (with or without the Cola)?
What’s your drug of choice?
According to the curators of High Society, an exhibition we caught last week at the Wellcome Collection, it’s human nature to seek out mood or mind-altering substances.
What separates the average user from the crackhead on the corner is a curious mix of choices, chemistry and circumstance.
A show on drugs that takes you from the opium trade right through the psychedelic and Acid House era might seem like an odd place for a half-term visit. But since it was about to close, we figured it was worth a shot.
Actually the Wellcome Collection is a family-friendly venue with plenty to appeal to parents.
First, it’s hardly your typical kiddie museum destination, so you’re not jostling for space with the buggy brigade. There are lifts, including a disabled lift on entrance and baby-changing on two floors.
As soon as we entered the High Society exhibition, a staff member informed us we could find an activity pack for Ezra on the top level.
While Daddy and Ezra headed up, I had a chance to wander through the show with Jed helpfully asleep in his pushchair. It was fascinating seeing documents, images and video evidence of how drugs like marijuana and LED have shaped our culture as well as just how many billions are being ploughed into the war on drugs.
One exhibit item showed how, centuries back, parents were given medicines containing cocaine to treat everything from gripe to toothache. And you thought Calpol was strong!
Ezra was happy to wander around with his pack and he also enjoyed elements of the show, e.g. a short film showing Alice in Wonderland shrinking and growing.
Upstairs in the Medicine Man exhibition – featuring artefacts from founder Sir Henry Wellcome’s collection – Ezra was creeped out by some of the displays including hair and human remains. Frankly, mama was too. I spent quite a bit of time covering his eyes (and mine) up here.
About an hour and a half into our visit, with Dad gone to catch the footie, we were ready for tea.
Handily, the Wellcome Collection houses a bright and comfy Peyton and Byrne cafe where I tucked into a Victorian sandwich slice and Ezra had his usual carrot cake. I think he liked it.
Jed woke just in time for biscuits with his milk and a quick browse around the Blackwell bookstore before we headed home.
The Wellcome Collection describes itself as ‘a free destination for the incurably curious’ and hosts a range of shows and events that explore what it means to be human.
Starting this month is Born Today a series of talks on childbirth in the Western World as it compares to other cultures.
Born Today runs from Mar 10 to May 5
Visit the Wellcome Collection for further info
Photos via Wellcome Collection web site