The Museum Of


The History of Substance Use

Pre-History to Modern Day

Drug use is often seen as a modern phenomenon, brought about through globalisation and Western society's insatiable demand for the instantaneous. As a subject matter it continues to divide opinion, sets scientists and politicians at odds, and captures the news headlines throughout the world. And yet the relationship between human beings and drugs is one that has existed since the the beginning of time. In fact, psychoactive substances may have been a key element in our development and survival as a species.

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Sensationalist Novels

An Exhibition Of Book Cover Art

Great story writing is based on conflict. Without conflict change doesn't occur and stories are driven by change. From Edwin Drood to Trainspotting - drugs have been a vehicle for conflict in fiction writing for well over a hundred years. Never has this been so prevalent than in the 1950s and 1960s, when sensationalist drugs novels proliferated the shelves of street stalls and bookstores. Many of these paperbacks bore iconic artwork with titles that warned the casual passer by of the threat posed by drug use.

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Hidden Histories

Forgotten Voices

For many people drug use is a taboo subject. For some it is an issue they would simply prefer not to acknowledge, for other it is the stigma associated with their use that prevents them from being open. We want to have a conversation starting with your story.

Whether you currently use drugs, or used to use them years ago, we'd love to hear about your experiences. Perhaps you were involved in law enforcement and have a particular view. Our aim is to create a unique exhibition of your stories, telling an alternative perspective on drug use. Click on the link here

About the Museum of Drugs

A leading authority on the history of substance use

The Museum of Drugs was established in 2008 and is an internationally recognised leading authority on the history of substance use. Home to a diverse collection of historical artefacts, the Museum of Drugs charts our relationship with drugs. It is a story of polarisation, from their role in our early evolutionary development through to prohibition in more recent times.

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The Billie Carleton Exhibition

A Life In Pictures

The Museum of Drugs is proud to present an exhibition about the life of the late Billie Carleton 1918. Billie Carleton (nee Florence Leonora Stewart) rose to prominence as an actress on the West End, during the First World. However, it was her death at the end of the war and the subsequent moral panic played out in the Edwardian newspapers that drew her into the limelight.

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A Victorian Family in the Temperance Movement

The Temperance Movement gathered momentum in the mid 19th Century, in response to increasing concerns about the consumption of alcohol and the impact that is was having on both family life and productivity of amongst the workforce. Our exhibition tells the remarkable story of one family's devotion to the cause. Click here


History Pin

Connecting communities with local history

Historypin is a place for people to share photos and stories, telling the histories of their local communities. The Museum of Drugs has created a dedicated History Pin page, charting the history of substance use across the globe. Click here.



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