Photograph left by the founder of modern brain surgery, Harvey Cushing of Yale University.
The latest exhibition held at London’s Wellcome Collection Gallery, ‘Brains’, had to be temporarily shut down after more than a dozen patrons fainted due to shock after the viewing of a graphic film.
The video displayed footage of people being subjected to electric convulsive therapy and images of a living person having their skull sawed open proceeded by small instruments fitted into their brain. These images proved too overwhelming for several viewers who reacted by passing out.
The exhibition featured over 150 artefacts, manuscripts, video, photography and real brains including the brain of 1820s murderer and organ harvester, William Hare and slices of the brilliant mind of Albert Einstein. The 'Brains' exhibition aim was not to display understanding of the human mind as a "thinking machine" but to present a close up look at the physical object by scanning, slicing, and even pickling.
Complaints were sent to the health and safety department in Camden who rushed in to shut down the extreme videos.
A spokesperson for the Wellcome Collection stated that
they consulted with the Camden Council and proceeded to take precautionary measures to "ensure visitors safety and comfort".
"The content of the exhibition is challenging and not suitable for all, and given that many people have been coming to Wellcome Collection for the first time, we have increased the warnings as to the nature of this content."
Screen hoods were wrapped around the video booths to limit viewing and staff were told to warn patrons on entry not to view the video’s if they are prone to light headedness and fainting.
The film viewing was reopened after releasing disclaimers informing potential viewers that the exhibition "contains objects and images that some may find disturbing, including medical specimens and surgical film sequences" as well as a special film rating of 14+ preventing young children from seeing the gruesome images.
The exhibition has had a good run giving the Wellcome Collection an increase in visitor numbers by 20%. ‘Brains’ will be the venues "most successful exhibition to date" with around 100,000 people viewing the display.