London

Wellcome Trust exhibition to show history of dirt

Scavengers sorting plastic
Image caption The exhibition will look at scavengers in an Indian slum

A new exhibition in London will chart the history of the human relationship with dirt.

The exhibition, at the Wellcome Trust in Euston, explores attitudes towards dirt in a 17th Century Dutch home, a Victorian street and an Indian slum.

It includes some of the earliest sketches of bacteria and a map that first showed how cholera spread.

The exhibition is due to open in March 2011 and will run until the end of August.

It also tells the story of surgeon Jospeh Lister, who tried to understand why 90% of people with a broken limb or amputation at a Glasgow hospital got the wound infected.

His new regime of cleaning at the hospital transformed the situation and heralded the era of antiseptic surgery.

Another gallery will show how the Nazi quest for a "clean" society led to a drive for racial purity and ultimately the Holocaust.

'Drawn to filth'

Ken Arnold, director of public programmes at the Wellcome Collection, said: "Dirt is everywhere and periodically we get very worried about it.

"But we have also discovered that we need bits of it and guiltily, secretly, we are sometimes drawn to it.

"Dirt is a perfect subject for Wellcome Collection to explore in our eclectic fashion - the good and bad, the art and science, yesterday and today, in London, New York, Dresden and New Delhi."

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