Director of Science Communication Ken Arnold – University of Copenhagen

Director of Science Communication Ken Arnold

Curriculum Vitae

Ken Arnold currently spends half his time in Copenhagen as Director of Medical Museion and Professor, and the other half as Creative Director at Wellcome in London, working on international cultural initiatives. Prior to that he set up and then directed the programmes at Wellcome Collection – an internationally acclaimed museum that opened in 2007 to explore the connections between medicine, art and life. It embodies much of his vision for a culturally inspired public engagement with medicine and wellbeing, which last year attracted over three quarters of a million visits.

This project came as the culmination of almost 20 years of public engagement work undertaken at Wellcome, where he ran a variety of exhibitions, events and arts initiatives (including ones at the V&A, a series of shows at the Science Museum, and the highly successful exhibition Medicine Man: the Forgotten Museum of Henry Wellcome shown at the British Museum in 2003 – all in London). He also led Wellcome’s funding initiatives in the arts, supporting collaborative work between scientists and artists.

His B.A. was in Natural Sciences (Cambridge) and his Ph.D. (Princeton) was in the history of science, an explored the early history of museums as ‘cabinets for the curious’. Prior to joining Wellcome in 1992, he worked in a variety of museums (national and local) on both sides of the Atlantic.

He regularly writes and lectures on the culture of museums (past and present), as well as on the contemporary relations between the arts and sciences. He was a visiting professor at University of Copenhagen in the summers of 2010 and 2012, and served as a Research Associate at the Museums Association. In 2011 he was awarded the RSA Bicentenary medal for services to design and society. He is currently a director, trustee and advisor on various bodies and committees.

Date of Birth:  9th August, 1960


• Director of Medical Museion and Professor at Copenhagen University. (2016 - ) Directing new chapter in Denmark’s national museum for medicine, culture and society.

• Creative Director, Wellcome Trust, London (2016 - ) Directing co-produced international cultural programmes.

• Head of Public Programmes, Wellcome Trust, London (2004 – 2015) Acted as Creative Director for the setting up of Wellcome Collection – opened June 2007. Runs a department of 15, with overall responsibility for programming of Wellcome Trust public venue – Wellcome Collection – opening 2007. Oversees programme of exhibitions & events, communications and visitor experience.

• Exhibitions Manager, Wellcome Trust, London (1996 - 2004)  Running department of 10. Managing two temporary exhibition Galleries, curating programme of temporary exhibitions in one. Running sciart (collaborations in Science and Art) funding initiative. Managing other exhibition and outreach related activities for Wellcome Trust.   • Research Fellow – Humanities Research Institute: University of California – Irvine (1999)  Work on the ‘Microcosms’ research project investigating and relating the early history of museums (Renaissance) and the recent history of universities.

• Exhibitions Officer, Wellcome Institute for the History of  Medicine, London. (1992- 1996)  All aspects of the Institutes provision of exhibitions: curating series of temporary exhibitions, arranging loans of library material, supervision of art materials throughout building and of various displays.   • Assistant Keeper, Livesey Museum, Southwark (1991- 1992)   • Exhibition Assistant, Croydon Central Library (1990)

• Special Assistant, Museum of Mankind: British Museum (1989- 1990)  

• Exhibition Assistant, National Museum of American history, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC (1987 - 1988)  

Other activities:

Academic work: 

  • Professor, University of Copenhagen (2016 –
  • Visiting Professor, Medical School, University of Copenhagen. (summers 2010, 2012)
  • PhD supervisor and examiner for Victoria University of Wellington, Imperial College, University of Leicester, Leeds Metropolitan University, Oxford University and Open University – for research projects ranging from science communication, museum studies, art and art history.
  • External Examiner for Art Gallery & Museum Studies M.A. – University of Manchester (2009 -  2014)

Boards of Directors/Trustees/Advisors: 

  • Member of Advisory Board - BIOTOPIA, Munich.
  • Member of Board of Directors for Create KX – Kings Cross based organisation championing and co-ordinating creative organisations, individuals and industries. (2005 -2010)
  • Member of Governance Board – Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin. (2009 - 2012)
  • Member of selection panel for Michael Faraday Prize for Science Communication, Royal Society (2009 - 2012)
  • Selection panel member for Clore Leadership Programme (2007 - 2014)
  • Member of Advisory Board for Medical Museion, Copenhagen University. (2008 - 2010)
  • AHRB REF exercise, History Panel. (2011 – 2014)


  • Awarded RSA Bicentenary Medal for “for using design to increase people’s resourcefulness.” (2011)


  • Frequent lecture appearances – most recently in Sheffield, Sydney, London, Wellington (New Zealand), Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Derry as well as on the radio, especially BBC Radio 4.


• History Department, Princeton University, New Jersey, USA (Sept. 1984 to Dec. 1991) Ph.D. "Cabinets for the Curious. Practicing science in English Museums 1600- 1759." (Awarded December 1991)

• Museum Studies Department, Leicester University, England, (Oct. 1990- June 1993) Diploma in Museum Studies (Distinction).

• Selwyn College, Cambridge University, England, (Oct. 1980 to June 1983) BA Natural Sciences.

• Shenley Court School, Birmingham 30, England (Sept. 1971 to June 1978)


Curator or project director of over 40 exhibitions since 1988. These include:

• Reading Room – Wellcome Collection. Co-director of project to install new hybrid public space in part of Wellcome Library. Opened Spring 2015.

• Wellcome Collection – creative director for public venue (3 galleries, 1 event studio, café/bookshop…) Opened June 2007. []

• ‘Touch Me’. Project leader. V&A exhibition produced by the Wellcome Trust, 2005.

• ‘Future Face’ Project leader. Science Museum exhibition produced by the Wellcome Trust, 2004.

• ‘Pain: Passion, compassion, sensibility’. Project leader. Science Museum exhibition produced by the Wellcome Trust, 2004.

• ‘Medicine man: the forgotten museum of Henry Wellcome’. Chief curator. British Museum exhibition produced by Wellcome Trust, 2003.

• ‘Treat yourself: health consumers in a medical age’. Co-curator. Science Museum exhibition produced by Wellcome Trust, 2003.

• ‘Metamorphing: Transformation in science, art and mythology’. Project leader. Science Museum exhibition produced by the Wellcome Trust, 2002/3.

• ‘Head on: art with the brain in mind’. Co-curator. Science Museum exhibition produced by the Wellcome Trust, 2000.

• ‘Multiplicity: 24 artists look at cloning’. Chief curator. Two10 Gallery, Wellcome Trust, 1998.

• ‘Doctor Death: medicine at the end of life’. Chief curator. History of Medicine Gallery, Wellcome Trust, 1997.

• ‘Inside information: imaging the human body’. Chief curator. Two10 Gallery, Wellcome Trust, 1996.

• ‘Materia medica: a new cabinet of medicine and art’. (Chief curator. History of Medicine Gallery, Wellcome Trust, 1995.

• ‘Genes are us’. (Interactive exhibition on science of genetics). Chief curator. Motor Show at N.E.C., Birmingham, for Wellcome Trust, 1994

• ‘Picturing the body: Five centuries of medical images’. Chief curator. History of Medicine Gallery, Wellcome Trust, 1993.

• ‘The Great Rubbish Show’. Chief curator. Livesey Museum, Southwark, London. 1991


Writing or editing over 60 publications, including:

• Foreword for The Restless Compendium: Interdisciplinary Investigations of Rest and its Opposites. Eds: Felicity Callard, Kimberley Staines and James Wilkes. Palgrave MacMillan, 2016

• ‘The politics of museums’, (book review of  Clive Gray’s book, London, Palgrave Macmillan) in Cultural Trends. April, 2016. pp. 1-2 []

• ‘Thinking things through: reviving museum research’. In Science Museum Group Journal. Spring 2016. []

• ‘From Caring to Creating: Curators Change Their Spots’ in Museum Practice. Ed. Conal McCarthy. Volume 4 in the series International Handbook of Museum Studies. General editors Sharon Macdonald and Helen Rees Leahy. Oxford and Malden, MA: Wiley 2015. pp. 317 – 330.

• ‘Wellcome Collection: raising the cultural profile of science’ New Statesman (2 March 2015) [ science‎]

• (with Simon Chaplin) ‘Introducing the Reading Room’. In Anna Faherty, Reading Room Companion. Wellcome Trust (2014)

• (with Simon Chaplin) ‘Wellcome Collection and the post-medical museum?’ in Medical Museums: Past, Present and Future. Eds. Sam Alberti and Elizabeth Hallam, Royal College of Surgeons (2013)

• ‘A Strange Crossover’ in Karen Ingham, Wonder Chamber (Ffotogallery, Cardiff, 2012)

• (with Thomas Söderqvist), ‘Medical instruments in museums: immediate impressions and historical meanings’, ISIS (December 2011)

• Introduction to The Art of Medicine (Ilex/ University of Chicago, 2011)

• (with Thomas Söderqvist) ‘Back to basics: a manifesto for making science, technology and medicine exhibitions”, Museums Journal, 2011.

• Review of Elizabeth Edwards, Chris Gosden, Ruth B Phillips (eds), Sensible Objects: Colonialism, Museums and Material Culture, Oxford and New York, Berg, 2006, in Museum and Society vol. 7 no. 3 pp. 210-211 (2009)

• & James Peto, ‘Introduction’, Identity & Identification (Black Dog Publishing, London, 2009)

• ‘Medicine and Art at Wellcome Collection’ in Medicine and Art: Imagining a Future for Life and Love – Leonardo da Vinci, Okyo, Damien Hirst (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2009)

• 'Show business: exhibitions and the making of knowledge', in Acts of Seeing festschrift volume for Martin Kemp edited by Assimina Kaniari and Marina Wallace (Zidane Press, 2009)

• Introduction to Skeleton: London’s buried bones (Wellcome Trust, London, 2008)

• Conceived and directed publication of Medical London: city of diseases, city of cures. (Strange Attractor Press, 2008) A slipcased volume of 6 maps, gazetteer and essays about medicine past and present in one of the world’s most important cities.

• ‘Biography of a blockbuster text book’ – review of ‘The anatomist@ a true story of Gray’s anatomy’ by Bill Hayes in NATURE vol 451/17 jan 2008.

• Co-editor Sleeping & Dreaming – book accompanying exhibition of same name. (Black Dog Publishing, 2007)

• Cabinets for the curious: looking back at early English museums. (Ashgate Press, 2006)

• ‘Skulls, mummies and unicorn’s horns: medicinal chemistry in early English museums’, in Enlightening the British: Knowledge, Discovery and Learning in the 18th Century, eds. Robert Anderson, Marjorie Caygill, Luke Syson & Arthur MacGregor (British Museum Press, 2003)

• Medicine Man: Henry Wellcome’s forgotten museum (co-editor with Danielle Olsen) (British Museum Press, 2003)

• ‘Art in a medical context: public engagement of a different hue’, in The Art Image of Science eds. Hsu Huang & Tak Cheung Lau (National Museum of Natural Science, Taichung, Taiwan, 2003) pp. 14-20.

• Head on: art with the brain in mind, (joint author and editor with Caterina Albano and Marina Wallace) Artakt Publications (2002)

• ‘John Sulston by Marc Quinn’, Tate: the art magazine, no. 28 (Spring 2002) pp.18-9.

• The Collector’s Voice: critical readings in the practice of collecting. Volume 2 ‘Early Voices’ eds. Susan Pearce and Ken Arnold (Ashgate, 2000)

• ‘Illustration and photography in medicine’. Chapter in Oxford Illustrated Companion to Medicine edited by Lock, Dunea, Last (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000)

• ‘Fact and fancy: art in the presentation of science’. In Museums of modern science  (Nobel Symposium 112) (Watson Publishing, Nantucket, MA, 2000) pp.87-196

• ‘Between explanation and inspiration: images in science’. Chapter in Sian Ede, Strange and charmed: new science and the contemporary visual arts (Gulbenkian Foundation, London, 2000) pp.68-83

• ‘Does time heal? Medicine in the history of medicine’, in The story of time. Edited by Kristen Lippincott. (Merrell Holberton in association with National Maritime Museum, London, 1999), pp.220-240.

• ‘Museums and the making of medical history’, in Manifesting medicine: bodies and machines. Edited by Robert Bud, Hellmuth Trischler and Bernard Finn (Harwoods academic publishers, Chur, Switzerland, 1999) pp. 145-174

• ‘Birth and breeding: politics on display at the Wellcome Institute’, in The politics of display: museums, science, culture.(ed.) Sharon MacDonald. (London, Routledge, 1997).pp.183-197

• `Trade, Travel and Treasures: 17th-century Artificial Curiosities.' in Transports: Travel, Pleasure and imaginative Geography, 1600-1830 (Eds.) Chloe Chard and Helen Langdon. Yale University Press. 1996.

• 'Time heals: making history in medical museums', in Making histories in Museums (Ed) Gaynor Kavanagh. Leicester University press, 1996. pp.15-29

• 'Science as product or science as process', in Exploring Science in Museums (New Research in Museum Studies, volume VI  (Ed) Susan Pearce. Athlone, 1995.

• `Peter Greenaway: Artist as Curator'. Museum News 74 March/April 1995, pp.36-63.

• `Authoring chaos'. Museums Journal, 94, no.3, March 1994. pp.27-29