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The Kola Nut Cannot Be Contained

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Photograph of three individuals exploring an exhibition space. One person is looking at a display case containing a specimen jar. Another person is watching and listening to a BSL-interpreted video. The third person is facing the colourful mural and watching a video animation.
The Kola Nut Cannot Be Contained, a display at Wellcome Collection. Gallery Photo: Eszter Bonyi. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

What do you know about the kola nut? 

This bitter-tasting fruit has been important in West African culture and trade since at least the 11th century. Consumed as a stimulant due to its high caffeine content, kola has many religious, medicinal and social uses, and is a ritual symbol of goodwill and unity.

During the 19th century, kola nut was used as an ingredient for European and American products, including Coca-Cola, chocolate, and Western medicines. 

This evolving display features a series of stories by a range of contributors about the entangled global histories, vibrant traditions, and new innovations connected to this fascinating fruit.

Alongside the display, you’ll be able to take part in tours and informal activities happening in this space. 

‘The Kola Nut Cannot Be Contained’ is curated by Nathan Bossoh (University of Southampton) and Ruth Horry (Wellcome Collection). It is the first in a series of focused displays inspired by our collections.

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Gallery 3, level 1

Step-free access is available to all floors of the building

Large-print guides, transcripts and magnifiers are available in the gallery

For more information, please visit our Accessibility page. If you have any queries about accessibility, please email us at access@wellcomecollection.org or call 0 2 0. 7 6 1 1. 2 2 2 2