Assemble has won a competition to design a new permanent exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in central London
The Turner Prize-winning arts and architecture collective was chosen ahead of an undisclosed shortlist to win the prestigious commission.
The new first-floor space, planned to complete in September, will explore trust, identity and health in a changing world and will replace the Euston Road venue’s ‘Medicine Now’ display, which opened 12 years ago.
Assemble’s gallery will explore ‘what it means to be human in the 21st century’ and will feature works from well-known and emerging contemporary artists, a jukebox of contemporary songs about epidemics, a DNA sequencer smaller than a mobile phone, and a ‘Friendship Bench’, used in Zimbabwe to provide mental health counselling outside of clinical environments.
The appointment comes half a year after Assemble completed its competition-winning Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art in New Cross, south-east London. Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners won a contest for a £60,000 installation inside the Wellcome Collection last year.
Joe Halligan of Assemble said: ‘It’s fantastic to be involved in the design of a new gallery at the Wellcome Collection. We’re going to use natural materials, colour and inclusive design to create a humane and uplifting space where challenging conversations can happen and where a wide variety of different visitors feel welcomed.
‘The permanent exhibition will tackle some of the most critical subjects of our times, questioning what it means to be human today. We’re very excited for everyone to see it.’
Wellcome Collection project curator Clare Barlow commented: ‘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, from 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 hand-made aesthetic.’
The Wellcome Collection was created by the Wellcome Trust – one of the world’s largest medical charities – 12 years ago. It is based inside a £22.5 million venue on Euston Road, central London designed by Hopkins Architects.