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Herbarium and Naturopathic Remedies

Pharmacy Museum of BaselStepping into the door you are first struck by the aroma, pleasant and fascinating. The mixture of hundreds of herbs envelop your senses as you enter the old medieval house with rich wooden counters and shelves of herbal remedies in what was once the Barfüsser Pharmacy, now the Pharmaceutical Historical Museum of Basel. The University of Basel took over the historic pharmacy in 1924, creating the museum of pharmacological history with one of the world’s most important collections of historic pharmaceutical objects.

Beyond the front counters of the Herbarium, the museum is spread out through the rooms of the old house, leading on a trail through ancient pharmaceutical treatments from across the ages. Glass cases are filled with the objects of the healer’s art, from bones to bottles of Elixir Vitae, to complete old laboratories, furniture, instruments, amulets and druggists pestles. There are illustrated manuscripts on the art, craft of healing, both the scientifically innovative and purely fanciful, illustrating the historical, scientific, artistic and popular nature of the history of the pharmacy.

The old house named was built around 1480, and originally housed a printer, but became associated with the herbal and pharmacological arts when the 16th Century scholar of naturopathic medicine and the City Doctor of Basel, Theophrastus von Hohenheim became the personal physician of the owners. Theophrastes was more commonly known as Paracelsus.

The collection of obsolete remedies offers a view into the errors and experiments of medicine, including potions and ointments 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 with complex lab apparatuses and glass tubes, an Empire period pharmacy from France, and the Baroque Habsburg royal court pharmacy of Innsbruck from 1755.

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