An investigation into conscious experience, bringing together material from psychiatric studies and scans of traumatised brains with related paintings and installations.

Consciousness is a universal part of everyday life, yet it remains difficult to define exactly what it encompasses. This exhibition draws on the work of artists, psychologists, philosophers and neuroscientists in order to explore the full spectrum of conscious experiences, looking particularly the areas where uncertainty exists – from anaesthesia to synaesthesia, sleepwalking to memory loss.

Thematic displays explore interesting juxtapositions; science vs the soul, sleep vs awake, being vs not being. Bringing these ideas to light are neuron drawings by Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the man credited as the founder of neuroscience; Vladimir Nabokov’s Alphabet in Color, which illustrates his synaesthetic perceptions; and archive material from the first trial where insanity of sleep was successfully used as a defence.

Artistic material includes a preparatory sketch for Henry Fuseli’s 1781 painting, The Nightmare and Mary Kelly’s Post-Partum Document drawings, which chart her changing relationship with her son as he begins to develop speech.

Wellcome Collection

183 Euston Road, London, Greater London, NW1 2BE

020 7611 8348


Opening times

Monday: Closed
Tuesday 10am - 6pm
Wednesday 10am - 6pm
Thursday 10am - 10pm
Friday 10am - 6pm
Saturday 10am - 6pm
Sunday 11am - 6pm

Free to all

10% off in café

Valid to 31 December 2019

Enjoy 10% off in the café with your National Art Pass

Haven't got your pass yet? Learn more

Exhibitions and events at Wellcome Collection

Exhibitions nearby

Back to top