Disease X: London’s next epidemic? was a temporary exhibition at the Museum of London between November 2018 and March 2019.

To mark the 100 year anniversary of the deadliest wave of the Spanish Flu, we looked back at the past history of epidemics on Londoners. We wondered if the city might be at risk from an unknown ‘Disease X’, as the World Health Organisation called it.

London has been hit by many deadly epidemics over the centuries, including plague, cholera, smallpox, influenza and HIV/AIDS. We used our collections, new historical research and interviews with public health experts and epidemiologists to consider what impact a future outbreak could have on London.

Today London, like the rest of the world, has fallen victim to the Covid-19 pandemic. Life has changed in a way almost unimaginable when we created this exhibition. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been cut short and millions have been infected with a previously unknown virus. Here we share the stories, objects and words of our Disease X exhibition, to demonstrate what the past can tell us about epidemics and their impact on London.