Pharmaceutical collections and pharmacy museums

MúzeumCafé 47.

In Hungary the rights of Buda pharmacists were laid down in 1244. However, there are no pharmacy furnishings remaining from the pre-Renaissance period, though the inbuilt laboratory well-known from pharmacy museums, the officina (where medicine was handed over) and the separate storeroom originate from that time. The 17th century pharmacies in the Carpathian Basin, established mainly by aristocrats, followed this pattern, as did those founded by the churches as a result of Maria Theresa’s 1738 decree ordering the establishment of at least one pharmacy in each county. After the university in Nagyszombat, which trained pharmacists, moved to Buda in 1777, more and more pharmacies were founded by citizens. The first half of the 19th century saw a continuous growth in the number of pharmacies – some with Classicist, others with Empire or Biedermeier furnishings – where, as witnessed by the surviving pharmacies, the officina, furnishings, lab, vessels, instruments and library, have not only local value but also international significance. This is also true for later Eclectic and Art Nouveau furnishings, which can be found across the country. In Hungary, in addition to museum rules, since 1965 protection of the furnishings of old pharmacies has been regulated by a ministerial decree, in which an outstanding role was played by the Semmelweis Museum, Library and Archive of Medical History, and partly by the Museum of Applied Arts. From 1968, beginning with József Antall, Ferenc Szigetvári and later Mária Vida, the basic directives relating to protection of pharmacies’ historical and applied arts objects were several times reformulated, and pharmacy furnishings and locations in the ownership of museums, functioning and protected pharmacies, and buildings which used to house pharmacies and laboratories, were separated.