Pain: Passion, compassion, sensibility

Audio track by Curro Piñana

Curators: Javier Moscoso (CSIC)

Dates:13 February – 20 June 2004

Location: Science Museum. Wellcome Trust

We all know pain – first and foremost through our own personal experiences. But we also think we recognize it in the signs and gestures of others. The physical, psychological and social aspects of pain are universal.

The meaning of pain is not unchanging, however, and despite its universality it has not always been put at the centre of the human condition. It has multiple histories – of those who suffer, those who contemplate and study it, as well as those who inflict or alleviate it. Pain has variously been seen as a means of salvation, as the sign of injury or illness, or as a route to self-enhancement.

This exhibition is about the cultural place of pain, and how science and other ways of thinking have shaped our beliefs, our understanding and our attempts to control it.