The Netherlands’ Nationaal Farmaceutisch Museum has launched their virtual exhibition on the history of opium and opiates curated by digital archivist Rimke van der Bij in partnership with experienced academics in the histories of drugs and pharmaceuticals, Toine Pieters and Stephen Snelders.
The exhibition centres around three core themes: opium as a trading good; opium and opiates between medical and non-medical use; and, the use of opium and opiates in images and texts. These themes are explored through interactive digital exhibits that showcase exquisite photos alongside rich stories. For instance, the below screenshot of an interactive map of Amsterdam enables a visitor to discover the historical sites where opium and opiates were available; from a Pharmacy in 1750, to an Opium Den in 1910, to the Methadon bus in 1981, all of which can be explored further by clicking on the respective sites.
When approached for comment regarding the exhibition and its innovative approach, Professor Toine Pieters explained how “In the footsteps of the poppy” was curated in keeping with the Nationaal Farmaceutisch Museum’s philosophy:
“The digital National Pharmacy Museum aims to engage visitors and persuade them to start a time travel through the history of pills, potions, therapeutic medications as well as advertisements and pharmacy tools and practices. Each exhibition offers a digital experience in which the past, present and future of pharmacy meet. The exhibition is arranged with objects from our own collection and from collections of third parties. The exhibitions are always structured in the same way. Explore, deepen and broaden; this way, visitors can find information on the same theme on three levels. The traces of Papaver exhibition has been a co-production between a museum curator, designer, AI expert and medical historian.”
Indeed, by showcasing diverse sources from a multitude of collections, this exhibition offers an accessible and sensorially stimulating dedicated resource regarding the history of opium and its uses. The virtual exhibition is “open” to visitors now!
Photographs shared with permission of exhibition Editors.