Photo 51: From DNA to the Brain

25 Jun 2013 – 27 Jul 2013

Regular opening hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 20:00
11:00 – 20:00
11:00 – 20:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Cost of entry


Somerset House

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 77a, 91 and 176, while the River Bus Service can be taken to Embankment and Savoy Piers.
  • Temple, Covent Garden, Charing Cross and Embankment.
  • Charing Cross, Waterloo and Blackfriars.

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Photo 51: From DNA to the Brain


In recognition of the most significant breakthrough of modern science, the discovery of the structure of DNA, King's Cultural Institute presents Photo 51 — an exhibition designed to communicate the power and significance of this remarkable finding to the public. From DNA fingerprinting to personalised genomes, our ability to read our genetic code has profoundly altered the course of biomedicine but was only made possible by a single momentous photograph taken at King's in the 1950's. ‘Photo 51' invites the public to explore this historic moment and trace the impact of the discovery of DNA on contemporary neuroscience and its potential to pioneer new ground in biomedicine. The exhibition will showcase the collaborative installations by photographer Christine Donnier-Valentin and glass sculptor Shelly James, that reveal archivists, technicians from the old Photo 51 laboratories and x-ray crystallographers to witness the moment King's scientists uncovered DNA's fundamental symmetry. Positioned alongside this will be the spectacular images of photographer Marcus Lyon, whose work with the neuroscientists in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre of Developmental Neurobiology reflects on how DNA has permeated the laboratory to become both its most commonplace tool and its most vital key to unlocking future biomedical discoveries. King's neuroscientist, and Photo 51 Curator, Dr Richard Wingate says: ‘We are delighted to be able to celebrate the centenary year of the MRC with an exhibition that explores the incredible power of DNA, the insights it provides into the structures, processes and beauty of the developing brain. The three artists threw themselves into an open-ended experiment with working scientists and returned with spectacular and moving work that explores the space and traces of discovery.' Free public events and scientific experiments will accompany the collections, ensuring that this acquaintance with the 20th century's greatest discovery will be a hands on, interactive journey. Visitors will discover the changing fabric of the laboratory and the research it contains and shapes, through the remarkable lens of DNA.


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