About Museum of Natural Medicine

Museum of Natural Medicine is a treasury of useful plants, plant product and animals from all over the World – applied in medicine, drugs, poisons, cosmetics, dye and more.
The Museum exhibits 600 Danish and foreign medicinal plants, explains the science behind the biological and pharmacological activity and how new pharmaceutical drugs are developed from natural sources.
Museum of Natural Medicine is part of the Department of Drug Design ang Pharmacology at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (SUND).

The history of Museum of Natural Medicine

Museum of Natural Medicine opened to the public October 2nd 2009, but the Pharmacognostic Collection on which the museum is founded has a long history. The core of the collection dates back to the efforts pharmacist and industrialist Alfred Benzon in the of the 19th century, but parts of the collection are even older.

  • 1825-35: Reddelien's Collection (Stubbekøbing Pharmacy)

    The inventory of Stubbekøbing Pharmacy 1825-35 is the oldest special collection in the Pharmacognostic Collection. It is a material documentation of the apothecary drugs in Denmark 200 years ago and their compliance with the Danish Pharmacopeia of 1805.

  • 1868: Riise's Collection from Danish Westindies

    Apothecary Riise’s collection of nearly 400 mainly tropical medicinal plant stemming from all continents except Antarctica was compiled between 1838 and 1868 in the Danish Westindies.

  • 1892: Alfred Benzon's Collection – The Pharmacognostic Collection

    Apothecary Alfred Benzon’s personal collection of herbal drugs was after his death in 1884 donated to the Botanical Museum in Copenhagen. In 1892 it was transferred to the newly established Pharmaceutical College and became the core of the Pharmacognostic Collection which today is owned and housed at Pharmaschool, University of Copenhagen. The main collection numbers more than 4000 medicinal plants and animals, and is continually expanded by new collections and donations. Since its beginning the Pharmacognostic Collection has been utilized in scientific research and the training of pharmacy students.

  • 1898-1918: Clemensen's Collection from Brazil

    At the beginning of the 20th century the Collection recieved some 140 tropical medicinal plants from Johannes Clemensen, en Danish pharmacist in Brazil.

  • 1899: Paulsen's Collection from Central Asia

    In 1898-99, the botanist and later-on professor at the Danish Pharmaceutical Highscool, Ove Paulsen participated in the 2nd Danish Pamir Expedition to what is now Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. The collection constitutes a unique documentation og Central Asian traditional medicin at the end og the 19th century.

  • 1900: The Cinchona Collection

    Pharmacist Martin Niels Reimer completed in year 1900 his doctoral thesis on Cinchona bark (Chincona cortex) and donated his bark samples to the Pharmacognostic Collection. The many hundred samples are still utilised in the research. Cinchinona bark, with is content of the alkaloid quinine, was for many hundred years the primary drug against malaria.

  • 1922: Hjalmar Jensen’s Collection from Java

    In 1922, the plant physiologist Hjalmar Jensen donated nearly 300 tropical medicinal plants collected and obtained during his residency in Java and participation in the Danish expedition to the islands of Aru and Kei.

  • 1970: The Japan Collection

    In the early 1970's the Pharmacognostic collection received more than 80 Asian medicinal plants and a few animals from the Japanese professor Yasuhisa Saiki.

  • 1993: Digital cataloging of the Pharmacognostic Collection

    The Pharmacognostic Collection was registered in a digital database and set up for display in a cellar in Universitetsparken Campus.

  • 2009: Opening of Museums of Natural Medicine

    In October 2009 Museum of Natural Medicine opened. The museum has a permanent exhibition of more than 600 pharmaceutical and herbal drugs, dietary supplements, Danish traditional medicine, cosmetics, poisons, euphorics, stimulants and more. The Alfred Benzon Foundation funded the establishment of the museum and exhibition.

  • 2010: The Pamir Collection

    In 2010 the curator of Museum of Natural Medicine undertook the 3rd Danish Pamir Expedition. The field work brought home more than 60 medicinal plants from Wakhan and Pamir in the Afghan Wakhan Corridor. The collection led to several research projects which confirmed the pharmacological activity of a selection of Afghan medicinal plants. The work and results of the study formed the content of a (school) book on the useful plants of Wakhan and Pamir. The expedition was funded by the Carlsberg Foundation.

  • 2011: Special exhibit: The Danish Pamir Expeditions 1896-2010

    The first special exhibit displayed the medicinal plants collected by Ove Paulsen in Central Asia in 1898-99 and medicinal plants, photos, equipment and results of the 3rd Danish Pamir Expedition 2010.

  • 2013: Special exhibit: Medicinal plants of the Vikings

    Based on a review of archeological studies and literary sources, the exhibit displayed medicinal plants from the world of the Vikings and perspectivized with modern knowledge of natural products and pharmacological activity.

  • 2014: Special exhibit: Plants against cancer

    Mere end halvdelen af de kræftlægemidler, som er udviklet siden 1940'erne, stammer fra naturen. I udstillingen præsenteredes en række af de planter, hvis indholdsstoffer har givet ophav til nye lægemidler mod kræft, og deres virkemåde.

  • 2014: The Gold Coast and Westindies collection

    På baggrund af historiske kilder blev der i 2013 og 2014 indsamlet mere end 100 plantearter, som var i anvendelse ved den danske Guldkyst for 2-300 år siden. På de Amerikanske Jomfruøer indsamledes 64 plantearter som var i medicinsk anvendelse blandt slaver i Dansk Vestindien. Samlingen lagde grund for farmakologisk evidensbasering af en række lægeplanter, hvis anvendelse i dag er gået tabt i Ghana og på de Amerikanske Jomfruøer. Projektet blev støttet af Cand. pharm. Povl M. Assens Fond.

  • 2015: Special exhibit: Afrodisiaka – Love drugs

    I museets hidtil bedst besøgte særudstilling præsenteredes en række planter og dyr hvis indholdsstoffer, eller placebo-effekt, har givet dem ry for at kunne stimulere mænd og kvinders sexlyst, potens eller seksuelle nydelse.

  • 2017: Special exhibit: Danish Slave Medicine

    I anledningen af 100-året for salget af Dansk Vestindien opstilledes en udstilling om slavernes traditionelle medicin. Slavernes medicin kendes i dag stort set kun fra støvede optegnelser i danske arkiver. Udstillingen fremviste de nyindsamlede tropiske planter fra St. Croix og Ghana og resultaterne af farmakologiske studier af planternes aktivitet baseret på de nu forsvundne anvendelser.

  • 2017: Relocation and restauration of the Pharmacognostic Collection

    Efter to mindre vandskader i forbindelse med skybrud i København blev det i 2017 besluttet at flytte den Farmakognostiske Samling til nye lokaler. Flytningen blev støttet af Alfred Benzon Fonden. Adskillige hundrede etiketter blev restaureret, og store dele af samlingen genorganiseret og -registreret. Størstedelen af hovedsamlingen (mere end 4000 glas) blev flyttet med hjælp fra frivillige farmaceutstuderende.