The Cult of Beauty at the Wellcome Collection was an exhibition that took place from the 26th of October of 2023 until the 28th of March of 2024. 

The Cult of Beauty was an intriguing (and free) exhibition housing a variety of different artefacts. It discussed humanity’s obsession with beauty, the lengths people go to achieve looks closer and closer to the societal standard of “beauty”, the correlation between the gender binary and beauty and more. 

A piece that stood out to me the most was the sculpture of Hermaphroditus sleeping. The sculpture displayed a deity, the child of Hermes and Aphrodite, Hermaphroditus. The sculpture portrayed the beauty of an intersex being and the transgression of stereotypical gender norms and expectations. This stood out to me as there are less intersex representatives in media and popular culture as compared to endosex figures.

The figure of “Sleeping Hermaphroditus” is placed alongside sculptures of Venus and Idolino, showing the coexistence between people of different gender identities and also offering a harmonious sight to onlookers.  

The Cult of Beauty also featured many other works, such as the “Beauty Sensorium”, an installation art piece showing the recreations of old Renaissance beauty concoctions, a bust of Nefertiti and also pictures of people undergoing plastic surgery and more. 

Other than the poignant displays, the exhibit was also set up in a way that evoked a sense of wonder and unsettlement. Soft pink curtains enveloped most of the exhibit and the rooms were dimly lit, evoking a sense of mystery and a slight unnerving feeling. 

Personally, the exhibition was truly a memorable experience, especially in the aesthetic aspect.