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museum (1913 - 1932)
Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome [1853-1933], pharmacist and benefactor, privately collected the largest collection of objects relating to the history of medicine of his day. The collection, estimated on his death to be over one million items, was housed in a network of warehouses across London with a fraction of the collection being put on permanent exhibition at the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum on Wigmore Street, London, from 1913-1932. The museum showed the evolution of medicine as well as non-medical items with the ultimate goal of the collection being a ‘museum of man’ that would cover all periods in all areas of the world. On Henry Wellcome’s death, the Wellcome Foundation trustees decided that it was necessary to dismantle his collection. This was an arduous task that began in 1936 and was not fully completed until 1983 when the remaining history of medicine collection was donated to the Science Museum. The Wellcome Historical Medical Museum was not fully dissolved until 1985 when all distributions of material had been finalised.
The main ethnographic collection was distributed to interested museums between 1949 and 1954 in ten batches. The distribution of the 1300 cases of ethnographic material occurred in the British Museums with a number of specialist museums participating including the Horniman.
The later distribution of ethnographic material occurring in the 1980s occurred during the transfer of remaining history of medicine collection to the Science Museum. A number of surplus material was identified and distributed to appropriate institutions with the Horniman again receiving a large collection of ethnographic material, chiefly archaeological and from the Americas along with natural history specimens.

Record created 1999-12-27 by MIMSY
Record last updated 2016-06-09 by AGOODMAN