All Creatures Great and Small
The Development of Veterinary
Our latest Developing Treatments display traces the development of veterinary pharmacy from the 1700s onwards, focussing on medicines for livestock, working animals, and pets.
The display explores how different these different groups of animals were viewed from the late 1800s and throughout the 20th century, by examining the conditions they were treated for.
All Creatures Great and Small contains fifty veterinary medicines, contemporary advertisements, and equipment for compounding and administering medicines.
Going up in smoke
Pharmacy & smoking display
Since its arrival in Europe in the early 1500s, pharmacy and tobacco have had a long, interesting, and at times contradictory, relationship.
This exhibition explores the development of this relationship, from the introduction of the smoking of tobacco and other medicinal cigarettes to treat illness, to the development of pharmaceutical products for smoking cessation.
Going Up In Smoke has over twenty objects on display; including an 18th century Dutch Delftware tobacco jar; cigarettes with ingredients such as arsenic and stramonium, reputed to relieve respiratory conditions; and, in contrast, medicines formulated to help the smoker to quit.
Would you take a medicine containing morphine if you were suffering from morning sickness? Sniff a cocaine based powder if you had catarrh? Take heroin if you had bronchitis?
The answer, if you are sensible and law abiding, is most likely to be no. However medicines containing these substances were in the past viewed by medical professionals as legitimate and effective medicinal treatments.
Our current Developing Treatments display explores how controlled substances such as cannabis, coca, cocaine, opium, morphine, and heroin have been viewed and used throughout history as pharmaceutical treatments.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum, established in 1842, provides a wide range of services and activities for everyone interested in the history of British pharmacy. Based on our unique collections of around 45,000 objects there is something for everyone whether you are a pharmacist, researcher, family historian, visitor to London, or simply fascinated by the history of healthcare.
The museum collection covers all aspects of British pharmacy history including:
- traditional dispensing equipment
- drug storage containers
- fine "Lambeth delftware" dating from the 1600s and 1700s
- proprietary (brand name) medicines dating from the 1700s to present
- bronze and bell metal mortars
- medical caricatures
- a photo archive.
Ground floor (reception area)
Displays on themes from The Evolving Pharmacy and Lambeth’s Pharmacy Past, to Pharmacy and Nature, and Making Medicines.
Visitors can also find out how pharmacies have changed over time, and compare today’s experiences with how you trained to be a pharmacist in the 1800s.
The objects on display range from 18th century seahorses to current painkillers, and from equipment used to make pills in the 1800s to jars used to hold 16th century medicinal ingredients. There is also an opportunity to see the architect’s model for the 11-storey building that was first planned to house the Society when it moved to Lambeth in the 1970s.
Our Developing Treatments display case focuses on the way that different medical conditions have been treated over time, or how particular areas of medicine have developed over time; from the earliest records to the present day. The display changes in March each year to mark National Science and Engineering Week.
The new display ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ The Development of Veterinary Pharmacy charts the development of veterinary medicine from the 1700s onwards, focussing on medicines for livestock, working animals, and pets.
There are two other Developing Treatments currently on display. Drugs for Pleasure, Drugs for Pain explores how controlled substances such as cannabis, coca, cocaine, opium, morphine, and heroin have been viewed and used throughout history as pharmaceutical treatments. While Going Up In Smoke - Pharmacy & Smoking explores the complex relationship between pharmacy and the smoking of tobacco and other medicinal substances; from the introduction of the smoking of tobacco and other medicinal cigarettes to treat illness, to the development of pharmaceutical products for smoking cessation.
There is no need to book to visit these displays.
Mezzanine and first floors
The current themes of the displays are:
- Healing Science exhibition, that looks at 1000 years of pharmacy history
- Highlights of our English Delftware Drug Jar collection – beautiful ceramics dating from the 1600s and 1700s
- Highlights of our Pharmacy and Medicine Caricatures collection
- Bell metal mortars (The Saville Peck Bequest of Mortars)
Please note that these displays can only be visited as part of a guided tour. Please book your tour with the Museum office.
The Museum’s original materia medica collection is now cared for as part of the Economic Botany Collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Visit the Kew website for more information.
Visitors can buy postcards, greetings cards, history books, reproduction jars and British Society for the History of Pharmacy merchandise at the Society’s headquarters. Visit our pharmacy souvenirs section for more information.
The Museum offers a range of historical services based on the information, archives and objects we hold.
If you are a researcher, student, teacher, or simply interested in pharmacy history, we have a wide range of online resources to provide you with ways to find out more.
The majority of items in the collections are kept off-site safely stored for future generations. If you would like to see any objects or images from our collections, please contact us to make an appointment.
A separate collection of Scottish historical material is maintained at the Scottish Department in Edinburgh.
As an Accredited Museum, we have an Acquisitions and Disposals Policy that governs what we collect, how we collect and how we dispose of items, alongside the ethical, legal and organisational framework within which these procedures operate.
Find out more about our services.
For more information about the history of pharmacy please visit our museum information sheets page.
The Museum runs a programme of events throughout the year. Find out more about our future museum events.
Visiting the museum
Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum
66–68 East Smithfield
London, E1W 1AW
Tel: 020 7572 2210 (museum enquiries only)
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum has recently relocated to new premises and we are currently installing the displays in the new museum.
As a result, the Museum is currently closed to the public. The museum will reopen as soon as possible after the move is complete.
Curious about pharmacy
Each unique book in our pharmacy collection has been carefully
compiled by experts to provide you with illustrations, photographs,
facts and figures about the fascinating history of pharmacy.