Press release

Quacks and Cures - a new improved formula

Following on from the sell out success of last year’s event, Wellcome Collection is delighted to be returning with Quacks and Cures - an unusual, quirky and entertaining evening of quack doctors and medical cures from the 19th through 21st centuries.

Quacks and Cures: Friday 4 June 2010, 19.00-23.00
Venue: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
Admission: FREE

A Friday evening extravaganza, this event is a dynamic mix of performance, interactive displays, talks, discussions and hands-on activities taking place across four floors of Wellcome Collection on Euston Road central London.

Beginning on the ground floor, the evening will spread throughout the four corners of the building with a range of informative and off-the-wall activities including: a 'quack band' whipping up a storm by performing the opening fanfare; a resident quack doctor curing all by beneficial remedies; a live leech demonstration where you will have the chance to handle them and learn about their use in reconstructive surgery; illuminating talks exploring topics such as London's healing spas and wells, the economics and politics behind medical evidence including a guest appearance of popular science writer and broadcaster Professor Simon Singh; an exploration of 'home remedies' where you can contribute your own remedies to the bizarre collection, be it vinegar, toothpaste or vodka; as well the visit to the doctor's consultation room toreceive a diagnosis from three expert physicians of different historic periods.

The event will also be accompanied by a rolling series of public health information films from the Wellcome Library, and 'restorative tonics' will be available at the bars throughout the evening.

Curator of the Quacks and Cures event Alex Julyan explains: "Quacks and Cures offers an alternative and stimulating way to spend a Friday evening. With many surprises scattered throughout the impressive spaces of the Wellcome Collection, this year's event will contain some of the same components as last year's spectacle. The live leech demonstration and doctor's consultation room are back by popular demand and some interesting additions include medicine in sea battles and a formidable panel of evidence experts including Simon Singh."

Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes at the Wellcome Trust, comments: "We had a tremendous response to last year's event, in which the audience were confronted with the relationship between past and present approaches to diagnosis and treatment. The event is a celebration of the weird, marvellous and downright fraudulent in medicine's past, asking us how much has changed today."

The term 'quack' originally emerged in the 18th century as a derogatory term applied by apothecaries to unqualified medical practitioners, who plied their trade through 'speechifying' or 'quacking' in public places.

Although 'quackery' remained popular throughout the 19th century, the Medical Act of 1858 introduced more robust regulation. Despite this, the quack continued to play a valuable role in the development of medical practice, forcing change through bold and occasionally reckless innovation.

Quacks and Cures aims to present a snapshot of some of the opinions and ideas threaded through three centuries of medical history. The event is free to all and no booking is required.