Kingston publishing lecturer helps inspire a new reading room experience


Kingston University publishing lecturer Anna Faherty is part of the team responsible for an innovative new public space at London’s Wellcome Collection. The Reading Room, which opened last week, is a reincarnation of the Wellcome Library’s original reading room. The new space is a hybrid gallery, library and events area containing over a thousand books, 100 objects and hundreds of reproduction prints. Visitors to the gallery are encouraged to settle down with a book or strike up a conversation with a stranger; they may also participate in pop-up events.

The Reading Room in 2015 (top) and 1985 (Anna Faherty / Wellcome Images)

The Reading Room in 2015 (top) and 1985 (Anna Faherty / Wellcome Images)

Anna worked with the Wellcome curatorial team and designers Objectif to plan, research and write interpretation throughout the gallery. A major component of the project is the Reading Room Companion, a 232-page book designed to be browsed and read in the space. The publication provides insights into the displayed objects alongside related stories, archive material and quotes, all selected to both satisfy and spark readers’ curiosity. The book has been described by Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes at Wellcome Collection, as delightful, distinctive and compelling.

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“Anna’s work in writing and compiling the Companion to Wellcome Collection’s recently-opened Reading Room was inspired. She took a relatively open project brief covering an eclectic set of topics and turned it into both an effective guide to the room and a delightful stand-alone volume, held together by a compelling and distinctive vision.”

Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes, Wellcome Collection

 The Reading Room is part of a major redevelopment at Wellcome Collection, the free destination for the incurably curious.

The Reading Room at Wellcome Collection Anna Faherty)

The Reading Room at Wellcome Collection, designed by AOC Architects (Anna Faherty)

Wellcome Collection is open Tuesday to Sunday, with late evening opening on Thursdays. The Reading Room Companion may be purchased from Blackwell’s at Wellcome Collection. Many of the paintings and prints on display in the space are also available to view and download from the Wellcome Library.

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