'Livingstone’s Medicine Chest'
Burroughs Wellcome & Co., 1900–10.
Burroughs Wellcome & Co. supplied the
Swedish-American explorer Algot Lange with specially equipped
medicine chests for his 1911 and 1913 Amazonian expeditions.
Commonly advertised as ‘Livingstone’s Medicine Chest’, these
compact cases were featured in all the major expeditions of the
time. Bearing the marks of use acquired during these heroic
undertakings, the cases were then returned to the company and
displayed at international fairs in dioramas that mimicked
contemporary museums of natural history and ethnography. Given the
supposed reliability of the drugs they contained, their neat design
and the associated advertising that focused on a spirit of
enterprise and discovery, they were ideal trademarks for a company
wishing to epitomise a modern scientific ethos.
The use of pharmaceutical substances is as old
as history itself, ranging from domestic healing practices based on
herbs through to contemporary industrial products. Exhibits related
to this topic can be found throughout Wellcome Collection. Go to
the galleries on the first floor and see if you can find Adam
Elshmeier’s painting of St Elizabeth visiting the sick, a whole
wall case of pharmaceutical glassware and Julian Walker’s
contemporary artwork ‘Acts of Faith’ (2003), which incorporates
hundreds of pills.
A700016, Wellcome Collection, kept at the
Science Museum, London
This will be on display at Wellcome Collection between
20 January - 6 March 2011
See this object in its context at the Horniman
Museum (on display 8 March - 17 April 2011)
See this object in its context at the Natural
History Museum (on display 19 April - 29
See this object in its context at Royal Botanic
Gardens, Kew (on display 1 June - 10 July 2011)
See this object in its context at the Science
Museum (on display 12 July - 21 August 2011)