Lisbon's Health & Pharmacy Museum

Permanent exhibition | 5000 years of history

Panel of São Cosme and São Damião (1501) by UnknownPharmacy Museum


The Pharmacy Museum was born out of a collective gesture of donations to the National Pharmacy Association, in order to preserve the history of the pharmaceutical profession. In June 1996, the Pharmacy Museum opened in Lisbon and in 2010, in the city of Porto.


Like animals, primitive man, when faced with pain, used his instinct to discover products of animal and vegetable origin that could function as possible therapies. In order to transform these products easily consumable, he has developed mortars that have reached the present day.

Fossil (-570000000) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Fossil | Africa

c. 570 - 505 millions of years a.C.
Inv. 14186  

Sarcophagus (-712) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians were polytheists and believed in life after death. In order for the soul to transcend, a well-preserved body was needed, which is why they developed the mummification system, learning more about human anatomy in this way.

Ancient Greece

The great achievement of Greek medicine was to consider that medicine and pharmacy were not based on religion, magic or superstition. The term "father of medicine" is traditionally applied to Hippocrates, who formed the so-called Hippocratic School.

Pelike (-390) by DariusPharmacy Museum

Pelike | Greece

c. 350 - 390 a.C.
Inv. 8875

Roman Empire

It was in Rome that the great advance of medicine and surgical instruments occurred. Due to war and gladiators, there is a need to cut, operate and suture. Galenic practices persisted in the Christian West and dominated the health sciences until the XVII-XVIII century.

Ring (-100) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Snake Ring | Rome

c. 100 a.C - c. 100 d.C.
Inv. 9996

Pre-Colombian Civilizations

These civilizations viewed death with acceptance, recognizing it as the final destiny inherent to human beings. However, they made good use of various plants that allowed them to escape from pain and achieve spiritual elevation: analgesic and hallucinogenic plants, respectively.

Priest Figure (500) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Representation of the Tlaloc's priest | Mexico

c. 500-950 a.C
Inv. 9859 

vase (550) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Mayan Civilization

They also believed that cocoa, stored in containers like this, had therapeutic properties.

Medical Manuscript (1201) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Arab World

The introduction of new pharmaceutical forms, such as syrups, preserves or confections, all with the use of sugar or honey in their formulas, contradicted the idea that only bitter medicines were effective. The first community pharmacy was founded in Baghdad, in the 19th century

Tibetan Art of Healing

The Asian people valued harmony and balance, having a thorough knowledge of the human body. Healing and spirituality were closely linked, and it was in the Buddhist medical letters, called tantras, that the whole Tibetan healing art was revealed.

Anatomical Medical Chart (1501) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Medical Chart | Tibet

16th Century
Inv. 7892

Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, myth, magic and belief played an important role in medicine and pharmacies. However, despite all this involvement with the occult, the Pharmacy of this time has achieved important achievements, such as the separation of the Medical and Pharmaceutical professions.

Jar (1501) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Drug Jars | Italy

16th century
Inv. 13591, 9528 

Surgical Case (1701) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Case with surgical instruments | Tibet

Wood and Metal
18th century  
Inv. 13654  

Hollow book (1682) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Hollow book with drawers used to hide poison | Germany (?)

Container with Goa Stone (1601) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Portuguese Pharmacy in the 17th and 18th centuries

At that time, medicine and pharmacy in Portugal were still influenced by classical doctrines, with therapeutics being a mixture of traditional methods such as purges, bleeds and enemas: all these practices known as Galenic techniques.

Narwhal tusk or Unicorn Horn (1701) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Narwhal Tooth or “Unicorn Horn” | France

Ivory and gold
18th Century
Inv. 7035 

Microscope with case (1738) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Modern Age

This period begins with the intellectual revolution of the 17th century, triggered by the contribution of man and scientific research that culminated in the Enlightenment of the 18th century. At the end of the Renaissance, a new theory emerged by Paracelsus: iatro-chemistry.

Chastity Belt (1870) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Compound microscope (1720) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

In view of this scientific dynamism, new instruments were invented and became essential tools in research work. Some of the most relevant inventions of the scientific revolution were the telescope, the barometer, the microscope and the thermometer.

Travelling medicine belt (1908) by Burroughs Wellcome & CoPharmacy Museum

The Adventure of Portable Pharmacies


The African art of healing, in addition to the use of medicines, also included certain rituals for the treatment of the body and spirit of its patients. Physicians (healers), in addition to plants and animal products, used sacrifices and dances as healing practices.

Power figure, Nkisi Nkondi (1880) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Nkisi Nkondi | Congo

Inv. 10858 


Traditional Chinese medicine is linked to the cosmological doctrine of the Yi-King, based on the existence of an immutable and eternal principle, which manifests itself in a state of rest (Yin) and movement (Yang), states that succeed each other in perfect harmony. .

Diagnostic doll (1801) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Diagnostic doll | China

19th Century  
Inv. 8843 

20th Century: The Pharmaceutical Century

The microbial explanation of diseases and cellular pathology has been replaced by a biochemical and molecular view. The search for new drugs to fight diseases, find comfort and prolong life, had a special impulse in the 20th century.

Penicillin Culture (1929) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Penicillin culture | England

Penicilin and Glass
Inv. 7092 

Pharmacy Barbosa (1770) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Barbosa Pharmacy

This 18th century pharmacy belonged to the Monastery of Paço de Sousa and functioned as a conventual apothecary. It is filled with copies of the Portuguese pharmacy faience of the same century, with Latin inscriptions.

Pharmacy Pacheco Pereira (1880) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Pacheco Pereira Pharmacy

Founded in 1880, it consists of two different areas and from different periods: the service area and the laboratory area. The introduction of a wooden service counter prevented customers from traveling to the medicine preparation area.

Chinese Pharmacy (1880) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Chinese Pharmacy TAI NING TONG

This is an authentic traditional Chinese pharmacy from Macau, dating from the end of the 19th century, which operated from that time until 1998, on Rua 5 de Outubro.

Liberal Pharmacy (1890) by UnknownPharmacy Museum

Liberal Pharmacy

Founded on August 11, 1890, this pharmacy was established on Avenida da Liberdade, in Lisbon. The great novelty of this Pharmacy is the existence of an attached laboratory, this being the new favorite space for the preparation of medicines.

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