A new exhibition has opened at the Wellcome Collection in London. “High Society” looks at the history of recreational drug use.
The curator of the exhibition, Mike Jay, also has a book out exploring the same subject.
He said: “In South America you find pipes going back 4,000 years and in Europe, you know scarified poppy heads turn up in Neolithic tombs, in China cannabis seeds and plants in very ancient burials and it’s probable, I think, that there isn’t a beginning to this story. All kinds of animals like to eat fermented fruit and get drunk. Monkeys and apes use all kinds of drugs and have drug seeking behaviours. I think it’s very likely that we were using drugs before we were human.”
The exhibition traces drug use across the world, including such infamous addicts as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lewis Carroll and Timothy Leary. It also looks at particular periods which are associated with drug use, like the Roaring Twenties and the Swinging Sixties.
The exhibition runs until 27 February 2011.