museum, library, online
Interior design Associate at BDP , Kristen Liedl, 2015
66 East Smithfield, E1W 1AW
Join us for a free guided tour of the RPS Museum and Library and find out what crocodiles have to do with pharmacy! Over 180 years old, the RPS Museum and Library is a hidden gem in East London, full of the weird and wonderful world of pharmacy history. Find out how best to use bear’s grease and explore a collection of poisons even Agatha Christie would swoon at! Scroll down to find out more
Tower Hill, Tower Gateway
Shadwell, Fenchurch Street
Five minute walk from 100 bus stop on East Smithfield Ten minute walk from Tower Hill or Tower Gateway Fifteen minute walk from Fenchurch Street or Shadwell
The Society’s museum was created in 1842, a year after the Society. It was intended as a reference collection for the students of the newly formed School of Pharmacy. Jacob Bell, the Society’s founder, wrote in the first edition of The Pharmaceutical Journal that the School should be equipped with a laboratory, a library and a “complete museum of materia medica comprising specimens of good and bad drugs”.
A new chapter in the Museum’s history began in 1937, when the decision was made to establish an historical collection, to coincide with the Society’s move to a new headquarters. Although the move to the new headquarters was abandoned for financial reasons, the museum collections expanded as was intended. Agnes Lothian, the librarian and part-time curator from 1940 to 1968, carried out an ambitious purchasing programme, particularly in the areas of ceramics, caricatures, and proprietaries (brand name medicines).
By the 1950s, the original materia medica collections were out of favour. Although their research potential was still recognised, changes in pharmacy and pharmacy education meant that the museum’s original purpose, its “practical utility” for students, was in an irreversible decline. The herbarium and materia medica was transferred to the University of Bradford in 1965, and then to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in 1982. These collections are still at Kew, and are available for research.
In 1976, after 135 years at Bloomsbury Square, the Society moved to new headquarters in Lambeth. From the outset, objects from the museum’s collections were displayed throughout the building, from the basement to the fifth floor.
In 2015 the Society moved to its current headquarters at 66-68 East Smithfield, London. Here the museum displays are concentrated on the ground floor.
Since the 1980s, with the appointment of specialist curators, the museum has concentrated on a wide range of activities from conservation programmes and computer cataloguing, to outreach events, exhibitions and publications. It is also a member of the London Museums of Health and Medicine group.
The museum collections cover all aspects of British pharmacy history, from the 1400s up to the present day.
The collection includes:
◾Proprietary (brand name) medicines, dating from the 1700s to the present day
◾Fine English Delftware & European drug jars, dating from the 1600s-1700s
◾Bell metal mortars, dating from the 1500s-1700s
◾The Burges Collection of Materia Medica, dating from the late 1700s
◾Traditional dispensing equipment
◾Drug storage containers
◾Medical caricatures and prints
◾Oil paintings, including portraits of past Society Presidents.
◾The Society’s photo archive
◾The Early Printed Books Collection, including herbals and early pharmacopoeias from the 1400s-1800s
Register your interest for the event by copying and pasting this link into your browser: https://events.rpharms.com/website/11750/
Drop in / Guided tour
offices, architectural practice
A contemporary adaptation of a 1980s office building, and home of global design firm Gensler. Each level of the building is connected by a structural timber facade and set of stairs, and the new 5th floor cantilevers from the roof.
architectural practice, offices, walk/tour
Pennington Street Warehouse is a Grade II Listed Warehouse, sensitively adapted in 2019 into a vibrant and creative home for architects & masterplanners, JTP.
Centre of German religious and cultural life for more than 200 years. Impressive 20th century church building with contributions from various German artists. Exhibition of German émigré artist Hans Feibusch „Five Stories from the Old Testament“ (courtesy of Ben Uri Gallery). Demonstration of the organ by resident organist Paul Dichtl.
Donald Plaskett Marshall & Partners, 1960
Neuron Pod is a striking 23-metre long and 10-metre high free-standing structure – designed as an extension to Centre of the Cell, an informal science learning centre at Queen Mary University of London’s Whitechapel campus.
Alsop Architects and Amec, 2005
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