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Science Museum

Marc Quinn to create monumental sculpture for new Medicine Galleries

Impression of Marc Quinn's sculpture of Zombie Boy
  • 3.5 metre sculpture by artist Marc Quinn will welcome visitors to the Science Museum’s new Medicine Galleries
  • GSK and Vitabiotics Vitamins named as new funders for this landmark £24 million project that will create a magnificent new home for the Museum’s world-renowned medical collection

The Science Museum has commissioned leading contemporary artist Marc Quinn to create a monumental bronze sculpture for its new Medicine Galleries.  To be unveiled in autumn 2019, 'Self-Conscious Gene' will greet visitors as they enter the Galleries, introducing the theme of ‘Medicine and Bodies’ that this space will explore.  

'Self-Conscious Gene' is a sculpture of Rick Genest, more widely known as Zombie Boy, who began covering his whole body with tattoos of his complete skeleton following a period of illness.  The work has evolved from Marc Quinn’s ongoing series entitled 'body alterations', which explores how, using modern medicine and technology, people have modified their outer bodies to reflect the identity they wish to project—bringing the inside out.

Through this sculpture, Quinn explores the deep yearning within humans to understand their bodies and roots.  The figure will hold an encyclopaedia of anatomy and the tension between the book and figure is designed to create a meditative atmosphere.

Artist Marc Quinn, said: “After a period of illness Rick Genest began to have the inside of his body drawn onto his skin by a tattoo artist. Literalising a quest to understand his own body, his tattoos are like a kind of poetry. His ritual mirrors our quest through medicine to understand and fix ourselves. What I love about Rick is that his body is at the crossroads of popular street culture, deep philosophical meaning, and medicine. It seemed to me that this was exactly what was needed in the Science Museum, one of my favourite museums in London, and one which I’ve been visiting since I was a child. The Museum is a mixture of knowledge, art, and wonder. I hope that this sculpture will add to all three of these elements.”

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, said: “Artists and scientists have helped shape our sense of the body and health, and placed medicine as central to our culture. That is why we wanted to position new art commissions alongside the richly visual medical artefacts in our existing collection, to help visitors consider anew their relationship with medicine. It has been a personal ambition of mine to work with Marc Quinn for more than two decades, and I am sure our millions of visitors will be both fascinated and challenged by this remarkable sculpture for many years to come.”

Keeper of Medicine and Lead Curator of the Medicine Galleries, Natasha McEnroe, said: “Scientific discovery and exploration of the human body has transformed how medicine defines and diagnoses disease as well as how we see ourselves, and Marc Quinn’s work perfectly expresses this central theme of the ‘Medicine and Bodies’ gallery.  This sculpture will join a truly extraordinary collection of the most significant objects in medical history to help visitors discover how the medical tools, techniques and knowledge developed in the past continue to shape the practise and our experience of medicine today.”

Based on the collections of Sir Henry Wellcome and the Science Museum, the Medicine Galleries will celebrate one of the largest and most significant medical collections in the world. Over 2500 extraordinary medical artefacts, spanning more than 500 years of history, will enable visitors to discover how all our lives have been transformed by changes in medical research and practice.  Set to open in autumn 2019, as a permanent display, the Medicine Galleries have been designed by architecture practice WilkinsonEyre and will cover more than 3000m2, an area big enough to park 185 ambulances.

The Science Museum is pleased to announce that GSK and Vitabiotics have joined the group of funders who have made the Medicine Galleries possible.

Sir Philip Hampton, Chairman, GSK said “As a science led global healthcare company, GSK is fully committed to looking at ways to further science education in the UK, by helping to inspire, educate and enthuse the younger generation and keeping the public informed, providing a greater understanding of the importance of science, drug discovery and development and the impact it has on us all throughout our lives.  Therefore, we are absolutely delighted to continue supporting the Science Museum and its cause by being part of this exciting initiative which will see the new Medicine Galleries at the heart of the Museum.”

Vitabiotics Founder and Chairman, Prof. Kartar Lalvani OBE, said: “Vitabiotics has always put scientific research at the core of its products and philosophy, with the message 'Science of healthy living'.  We are therefore immensely proud to support this project at the iconic Science Museum and, given our understanding of the role of vitamins and minerals in the body, we are delighted to be supporting 'The Body’s Building Blocks’ section of the Gallery, which is especially close to our heart.”

The Medicine Galleries have been made possible by a £10 million grant from Wellcome (Title Funder), £8 million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund – thanks to the National Lottery Players - and further support from GSK (Principal Sponsor), the Wolfson Foundation (Major Funder) and Vitabiotics (Major Sponsor). The galleries will be free to visit and are set to open in autumn 2019. For further information visit Medicine galleries.

For further information and images please contact Robert James in the Science Museum Press Office, on 020 7942 4401 or email robert,james@sciencemuseum.ac.uk

(Header image © WilkinsonEyre)

Notes to Editors

About the Science Museum

As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over 3 million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement. More information can be found at sciencemuseum.org.uk.

About Marc Quinn

Marc Quinn is one of the leading artists of his generation. His sculptures, paintings and drawings explore the relationships between art and science; Man and nature; and the human body and the perception of beauty. Quinn came to prominence in 1991 with his sculpture 'Self' (1991): a cast of the artist’s head made from eight pints of his own frozen blood. Other critically acclaimed works include 'Alison Lapper Pregnant' (2005), exhibited on the fourth plinth at London’s Trafalgar Square; 'Siren' (2008) a solid gold sculpture of the model Kate Moss displayed at The British Museum, London; 'Breath' (2012), a colossal replica of 'Alison Lapper Pregnant' commissioned for the 2012 Paralympics opening ceremony and 'Planet' (2008), a monumental rendition of the artist’s son as a baby, permanently installed at The Gardens by The Bay Singapore.

Recent solo exhibitions include 'Drawn from Life', Sir John Soane’s Museum, London (2017); 'Thames River Water Atlas', Ivorypress, Madrid (2017); 'Frozen Wave (The Conservation of Mass)', Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (2016); 'Frozen Waves, Broken Sublimes', Somerset House, London (2015); 'Violence and Serenity', Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (CAC), Malaga (2014); and previous work has been exhibited at Tate Gallery, London (1995), Fondazione Prada, Milan (2000) and MACRO, Rome (2006). Quinn’s work is included in collections across the world, including Tate, London (UK), Metropolitan Museum New York (USA), Guggenheim, Venice (IT), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NE), and the Centre Pompidou, Paris (FR).

About Wellcome

Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, the Heritage Lottery Fund uses National Lottery players' money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about.

About GSK

GSK is a science-led global healthcare company with a special purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer. We have three world-leading businesses that research, develop and manufacture innovative pharmaceutical medicines, vaccines and consumer healthcare products. Our goal is to be one of the world’s most innovative, best performing and trusted healthcare companies. GSK media enquiries: 020 8047 5502.

About the Wolfson Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science, health, education and the arts. Since 1955 it has awarded over £800 million (£1.7 billion in real terms) to some 10,000 projects across the UK, all on the basis of expert peer review.

Connect via twitter @WolfsonFdn and facebook.com/wolfsonfoundation

About Vitabiotics

Vitabiotics is a British company committed to human health and research which has pioneered advances in nutritional healthcare for over 45 years. As the UK’s No.1 vitamin company, Vitabiotics has created a unique portfolio of products at the forefront of scientific developments in key sectors, with no fewer than eleven brands in the top 20 VMS brands in the UK, including Pregnacare, Wellman and Wellwoman. Vitabiotics is widely acknowledged as leaders in innovation and in 2013 became the first vitamin company to receive the Queen’s Award for Innovation, awarded for its ground-breaking clinical research. As the fastest growing major vitamin company in the UK, Vitabiotics exports to over 100 countries, and has twice received the Queen’s Award for International Trade. Designed to provide maximum efficacy by supporting the human body in its own natural processes, each product is developed using the latest research available and is produced to the highest pharmaceutical standards.

About WilkinsonEyre

WilkinsonEyre, twice winners of both the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize and the RIBA Lubetkin Prize, is one of the UK’s leading architecture practices. Its portfolio of bold, beautiful, intelligent architecture includes the Guangzhou International Finance Centre, one of the tallest buildings in the world; the giant cooled conservatories for Gardens by the Bay in Singapore; and the renovation of Oxford University’s Weston Library – home to some of the nation’s most valuable literary treasures.

Current projects include the restoration of Battersea Power Station, a new Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning for RHS Garden Wisley and new towers in London, Sydney and Toronto.

About Discover South Kensington

Discover South Kensington brings together the Science Museum and other leading cultural and educational organisations to promote innovation and learning. South Kensington is the home of science, arts and inspiration. Discovery is at the core of what happens here and there is so much to explore every day.