The building of the Pharmacy Museum with its Rococo-style portal and door complex is an architectural monument that dates back to the 18th century, with its characteristic quadrangular structure and courtyard. Now, the newly established pharmacy garden has made its home in the museum’s yard.

The first organized plant growing sites in the ancient times were monastery gardens, where mainly sacred plants such as parsley, sage, valerian, and mint were grown. Pharmacy gardens were used to obtain medicinal plants, and their assignment was to provide pharmacies with local herbs.

The pharmacy garden of the Pharmacy Museum is a modern interpretation of the ancient gardens and is adapted for the convenience of visitors. You can see both local and foreign legendary plants, as well as some poisonous plants. Here you can get intimately get to know around 100 medicinal plants, including nine woody plants – acanthopanax, smooth currant, plum chokeberry, common dogwood, three-leafed pine, common mountain ash, common partridge, common barberry, and common juniper.

The aim of the garden is not to reflect the ancient principles of creating pharmacy gardens or to create something authentic, but to provide aesthetic enjoyment and insight into the diversity of plants used in pharmacy and folk medicine. The garden offers a harmonious space for exploring medicinal plants, giving them meaning in the context of a modern person’s daily life.

Individual on-site view of the pharmacy garden is possible by purchasing a museum visit ticket. Groups of students are invited to find out about it within the framework of the museum’s herbal pedagogical program “Games in the Enchanted Garden”.

The project was created with the support of the State Cultural Capital Fund.

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In association with social anthropologist Anna Žabicka, Pauls Stradiņš Museum of the History of Medicine is holding a six-part series of conversations centred around discussions on the notion of health. Our health is a multi-layered and variable experience that is influenced by a number of factors, not always medical ones. In our conversations we will explore subjects like health inequity and inequality, stigmatisation of diseases and the influence of the urban environment and loneliness on our health.

You can listen to all the conversations on our Youtube account: https://ej.uz/MVMsarunas

The MHM conversation series will treat health as a multiple, a plural experience and reality. In what sense?  ‘The body, the patient, the disease, the doctor, the technician, the technology: all of these are more than one,’ writes the philosopher Annemarie Mol. Even after a diagnosis has been given, as a patient with that particular diagnosis consulting a certain specialist, I am completely different from the patient I would be in the hands of another medical professional. The human body, the manifestations, course, depiction, representation and experience of disease and health are a multiple, multi-layered and fluctuating reality informed by a set of numerous variables. My health changes from one day to the next, from one environment to another; it comes into contact with everything that surrounds me and co-exists with everything that is already inside me. And as a human being, I am also in a constant relationship with the ‘more-than-human world’, by which I mean other living beings, the inanimate nature, the man-made environment, technologies, physical, social and mental structure, as well as fellow humans.

As part of the MHM conversation series, we will be joined by experts of medical and social sciences and medical professionals in discussions on man and the human health, attempting to see and outline it as something much wider than merely a ‘norm’ that does not demand medical intervention.  In the course of six conversations, we will address subjects like health inequity in Latvia; the place of narcotic substance users in the society and their access to healthcare; the influence of urban environment on health behaviour, nutrition and food chains, as well as loneliness, sexual health and sexuality. The conversations are centred around the human, his/her relationship with self, environment, time, space and the social political structure, and human health as an experience. See you at the MHM conversations at the museum or online, on the museum’s Facebook page!

About the moderator

The MHM conversations will be moderated by social anthropologist Anna Žabicka. Anna is currently writing her PhD thesis on aging and care in the Latvian countryside, basing it on a long-term ethnographic research carried out in a small Latvian countryside care home. Anna is specialising in medical anthropology: her principal academic focus is on the subjects of aging, care, health and social inequity, death and kinship. A holder of two MA degrees in social anthropology from Wayne State University (USA, 2019) and Riga Stradiņš University (2014), Anna Žabicka is currently studying toward a doctoral degree at the University of Vienna and teaching anthropology of medicine, death and kinship at Riga Stradiņš University.

The MHM conversation series is supported by Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

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Mvm-Blood Count

The permanent exhibition of the Pauls Stradiņš Medicine History Museum in 2021 will feature artworks by Katrīna Neiburga and Jānis Noviks – a creative response of both artists to museum’s collections and exhibits. This exhibition will launch the museum’s redefinition and residency programme entitled “Blood Count”.

Katrīna Neiburga and Jānis Noviks – active Latvian contemporary art practitioners with good knowledge of creative research methods and modern technologies – have highlighted the museum’s less noticeable and silenced aspects.

Jānis Noviks brings patients’ voices to the museum exhibition – they are as impersonal as disease descriptions in an encyclopaedia entry. At the foundation of his sound installation are vinyl recordings from the second edition of the Soviet-published Great Medical Encyclopaedia (1956–1964). The records are a compilation of sounds produced by the human body during pathological processes, as well as examples of stuttering and speech affected by mental disorders.

Jānis Noviks’ composition is a reflection on the audio-technical aspects of patient ‘auscultation’. The space selected for playback is a room devoted to 19th century medicine, featuring an exhibit of a collection of early stethoscopes. This medical device was invented by René Laennec, a major driving force in early clinical medicine. The stethoscope’s success was ensured by two factors. Firstly, clinical medicine allowed the auscultated diagnoses to be confirmed in the hospital autopsy rooms after the patient’s death. (It could be argued this cultivation of the imaginative skills of visualising sound, turning it into a virtual album of pathological anatomy, was the first step on the road to ultrasonography.) Secondly, the acoustic cylinder tactfully set a socially significant distance between doctor and patient.

A dedicated flutist in his youth, René Laennec included detailed descriptions of the tonal and rhythmic aspects of ‘pulmonary rales’ and ‘heart gallops’ in the manuals of his acoustic diagnostic device. In addition, his experiences during the reign of terror during the French Revolution led him to the notion that many ailments are the result of traumatic events – and therefore, for diagnostic purposes, it is prudent to also interview the patient.

Katrīna Neiburga has used the residency to add to the museum’s considerable portrait gallery, which is dominated by commissioned works from the 1950s – paintings created from photos or fine art reproduction photographs. Set in opulent frames from the turn of the 20th century, these portraits hark back to a time when an impressively framed oil painting was still a medium that could convey social prestige and authority.

For her portraits, Katrīna Neiburga employs the technological means that are available to 21st century video art, but keeps away from the talking head format, since the subjects she has chosen for her story are obstinate and reckless characters who operate outside any kind of box. She found her protagonists in Hugo Glaser’s book ‘The Drama of Medicine’, which is devoted to physicians who have carried out risky medical experiments on themselves: by ingesting the cholera vibrio, spending a night in the sweat-soaked nightshirt of a typhoid patient, or infecting a self-inflicted cut with pus or blood from a plague, leprosy or syphilis sufferer. Among them is Polish-born research physician Clara Fonti of the National Cancer Institute in Milan. To challenge the assumption that malignant tumours are caused by viruses, she rubbed her breast in a patient’s open cancer lesion, which led to serious blood poisoning. Just another example of a blood test one may encounter at the museum…

About Artists

Katrīna Neiburga creates video and environmental installations and processual art, as well as video works and scenography for opera and theatre productions. She is the first recipient of the Purvītis Prize. Together with Andris Eglītis, she represented Latvia at the 56th Venice Biennale. Neiburga’s recent projects have been displayed in exhibitions such as Survival Kit 11 (Riga, 2020), Wilderness (Drusti, 2020), Riga International Biennale of Contemporary Art RIBOCA (2018), as well as in solo exhibitions: Hair (KIM? Contemporary Art Center, 2019), Playground for Accepting Mortality(with Andris Eglītis and Jānis Noviks, Klosterruine, Berlin, 2019) and Pickled Long Cucumbers (Italienska Palatset, Växjö, Sweden, 2019).

Jānis Noviks works mostly in interactive large format installations that tend to focus on everyday phenomena, sounds or body movement experiences. Recently, Noviks has participated in the Sculpture Quadrennial (Riga, 2020) and several exhibitions: Wilderness (Drusti, 2020), 7kas (Rīga, 2019), JARO (Riga, 2019), Playground for Accepting Mortality (with Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis, Klosterruine, Berlin, 2019) and Survival Kit 10 (Riga, 2018).

About the Residency Programme “Blood Count”

The 2021 programme will take place in a form of institutional self-criticism during a time of change. The global experience of the pandemic has brought a tension into social thinking on health-related issues. That is why it is crucial that medicine, as a science of nature and technology, recognizes the perspective of social history, anthropology and cultural theory. 

For the whole year, the Museum will work as a multidisciplinary research laboratory, conducting a complete blood count and analysing its own future prospects. 

Blood Count, the museum’s research project residency programme, invites participants from outside the field to work with the museum’s collections, library resources and loft archives. This brings a prism of different outlooks and experiences to the research and helps to diversify the range of professional approaches and tools in working on future exhibitions.

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On February 22, at 19:00 online on Youtube and Facebook channels will happen readings of the graduates of the Latvian Writers’ Union Literary Academy’s “Poetry Workshop 2021”, created in cooperation with the Pauls Stradiņš Medicine History Museum.

The story of the readings takes place in 22022, when people have disappeared and the world is inhabited by machines. The most curious of the machines’ has gone to Pauls Stradiņš Medicine History Museum to understand what this strange creature – a human – was like. Nine diaries from the 20,000-year-old past have become available for the machine. They seem to have been written by poets. Will these remarks be enough to gain insight into humanity? Will putting together the exhibits from Medicine History Museum, stories and poems make the image of a human clear enough?

Pauls Stradiņš Medicine History Museum has not only been the place where the video was filmed, but it has also been a source of inspiration for writing poems about people in the broadest sense of the word. Poetry is closely intertwined with the treasures of the museum, sometimes arising from them and flowing into the very bedrock of existence, they will dominate the diary entry of each young poet.

Online event can be accessed on the Facebook accounts of Medicine History Museum and the Latvian Writers’ Union, as well as on the Youtube channel of the Latvian Writers’ Union.

Jauno Dzejnieku Lasijums 22022. Gads Vertikala 1
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In order to express its support to the people of Ukraine and satnd aigaints Russian invasion in Ukraine, the Pauls Stradins Museum of Medical History, together with the Latvian Center for Contemporary Art (LLMC), is organizing a cycle of activism and protest workshops entitled “Participation Workshop”.

“Participation workshops” will take place every day from 16.00 to 19.00 in the premises of the Museum of Medical History. During them, under the guidance of professional artists, you will have the opportunity to create your own poster, learning different art techniques, as well as share different experiences and methods of participation and activism.

In work days workshops happen form 16.00 till 19.00, but on weekend form 12.00 till 15.00.

Workshops from March 7th till 13th: 
07.03 from 16.00 till 19.00 – Lolita Tomsone un Latvijas Muzeju biedrība
08.03 from 16.00 till 19.00 – Rasa Jansone
09.03 from 16.00 till 19.00 – Krista Burāne un Ieva Kauliņa
10.03 from 16.00 till 19.00 – Gundega Evelone
11.03 from 16.00 till 19.00 – Maija Kurševa
12.03 from 12.00 till 15.00 – Sabīne Vekmane
13.03 from 12.00 till 15.00 – Krista un Reinis Dzudzilo

Workshops from March 14th till 20th: 
14.03 from 16.00 till 19.00 – Liene Pavlovska
15.03 from 16.00 till 19.00 – Envija
16.03 from 16.00 till 19.00 – Kaspars Groševs 
17.03 from 16.00 till 19.00 – Anda Lāce 
18.03 from 16.00 till 19.00 – Anna Priedola 
19.03 from 12.00 till 15.00 – Ivars Drulle 
20.03 from 12.00 till 15.00 – Vika Eksta  

For up-to-date information about the artists, please follow the “Participation Workshop” Facebook event.

We invite all interested parties to join the workshops and jointly create posters and other attributes in support of Ukraine!

Artists and organizations can also contribute by organizing their own workshops, while companies support the workshops by donating surplus materials: paints, fabrics, cardboard, paper, etc.

Interested artists and organizations are asked to apply by writing to sofija@lcca.lv

Let’s support Ukraine and each other!

Start image: Zoom background created by designer Linda Jākobsone Viškere as part of the campaign “Against Putin With Design”.

Image in the article: Ieva Kauliņa “Participation workshop”.

Līdzdalības Darbnīca
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A remote museum event for friends, family or colleagues, sharing the history of pharmacy and the challenges of the alchemist’s profession in an entertaining way.

How long has it been since you visited a museum with friends, family or colleagues and saw something unique up close to investigate it more closely and joke about it together? The Museum of Pharmacy offers larger and smaller groups a trip to the past in an informal atmosphere, during which it will be possible to learn the nuances of the history of pharmacy, from experimental collecting of plants to a modern pharmacist’s assistant’s room. During the remote event, guests will be able to assess how strong was alchemists’ sense of humor and whether they were really doing magic, as well as to discover a number of secrets, such as what is an alchemist’s biggest professional failure. The event will take place on the Zoom platform and guests will be kept engaged by conversations on the site https://pollev.com/thegift077, which we recommend to open on the phone before the lesson. The site does not require registration. You will just need a good mood, internet connection, a charged phone and a computer for an exciting and exploratory get-together.

This programme is best suited for: adults
Lesson duration: 1h
Payment method: prepayment
Lesson fee: 50 EUR
Maximum number of participants per session: 25 people
Language of activity: Latvian, English
Apply by writing to: elvigs.kabucis@mvm.gov.lv

Alkimikis Cover
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