Pharmacy Museum in Basel, Switzerland

Of the many museums of Basel it is undoubtedly one of the most pleasantly aromatic museums to visit. The aerial mixture of hundreds of herbs enfold you as you enter the door from the hidden courtyard, stepping into the old medieval house, presented with rich wooden counters and shelves of herb remedies in the original confines of the historic Barfüsser Pharmacy. Now the Pharmaceutical Historical Museum of Basel, you can actually purchase the herb wares in this "Herbarium".

The University of Basel took over the building and its historic pharmacy in 1924, creating the museum of pharmacological history with one of the world’s most important collections of historic pharmaceutical objects. The museum is spread through rooms and floors in the old house beyond the counters of the Herbarium, featuring ancient pharmaceutical treatments from across the ages. Glass cases filled with the curious objects of the healer’s art, from bones to bottles of Elixer Vitae, complete period laboratories, furniture, amulets, pottery and vessels, instruments and illustrated manuscripts on the art, craft of healing, both innovative and fanciful, illustrating the historical, scientific, artistic and popular nature of the history of the pharmacy.

The house named "Zum Vorderen Sessel" (the front seat) was built around 1480, the residence and printing shop of Basel book printer Johannes Ammerbach, later taken over by Johannes Frobenius, who made Basel one of the leading printing centers of the German language book trade (see Basel Paper Museum). Artist Hans Holbein began his career as an illustrator in the shop and the humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam lived in the house for two years. The building’s connection to medicine came when the renowned 16th Century scholar of nuturopathic medicine and the City Doctor of Basel, Theophrastus von Hohenheim, known as Paracelsus, served as the Froben family’s personal physician.

The collection of obsolete remedies gives a peek into the errors of medicinal thought of the past, medicinal potions and ointments of mineral, herbal and animal origin more imaginative than effective, including a varieties of amulets to ward of the demons of disease, protecting the user with magical powers against the plague. Four rooms in the museum present a look into the ideas of medicine before the modern era - a medieval Gothic private chapel built in the 15th century converted into an alchemist's work room, a pharmaceutical laboratory from 1800 of complex lab apparatuses and glass tubes, an Empire period pharmacy from France, and the Baroque Habsburg royal court pharmacy of Innsbruck from 1755.

The Pharmazie-Historisches Museum Basel in the courtyard of Totengässlein 3, is open Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 6pm and 10 to 5pm on Saturdays. Admission is 5 chf for adults, 3 chf for students. There are lectures and events offered but most are in German. You can arrange a guided tour in English, or use the audio guide. The Pharmacy Museum is a stop on the Paracelsus Walk of Basel marked by grey-on-blue signs with the physician’s balding image. From the Marktplatz take the steps of the Totengässlein toward the Peterskirche on the hill above the old city, after 100 yards the entrance to the inner courtyard on the left is marked with a sign. You can get a map or iGuide hand held PDA tour guide from the tourism office at Barfusserplatz or the SBB main Basel train station.

(Text from Bargain Travel Europe)

For more about this amazing museum, their collection, tours, etc., please see Pharmacy Museum, Basel

Images also from Pharmacy Museum, Basel

For more about other Medical Museums, please see The Antique Cannabis Book, The Lance Armstrong Foundation, Hash, Marijuana, & Hemp Museum Amsterdam, or The Rose Melnick Medical Museum

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For someone fond of visiting museums, this is definitely a must-go destination. I have not come across any herb museum yet so I'm very excited.

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