10 Lange St Agnietenstraat, Leiden, Netherlands
071 521 4224
Museum Boerhaave Leiden Reviews
Excellent History of Science and Medicine Museum Jun 12, 2010
This is the National Museum of the History of Science and Medicine for The Netherlands, and very fine it is too. It is named after Herman Boerhaave, who spent his career at Leiden University. He became one of the world's most celebrated physicians in the eighteenth century, and remains an important figure in the history of medicine.
The Museum is organised along traditional lines; that is to say, there are no concessions to children, and its role is simply to display and explain the objects in its collection, rather than to use them as a springboard for discoursing on the wonders of modern science. But there is nothing old or musty about the building and its displays, which appear quite modern: the objects are all well-presented and almost all the information is given in both Dutch and English.
As well as scientific objects there are also displays of rare and important books in the history of science and medicine, such as Vesalius's De Humanis Corporis Fabrica; these are in waist-level glass-topped cabinets, and so it is possible to admire at close quarters the beautiful printing and illustrations in these volumes. The botanical works are especially appealing.
Unusually, and perhaps because the Museum is not designed for children, all the models worked, as did the videos; and the animations that explained some of the technology were first-class, and really helpful. I particularly enjoyed the hands-on astrolabe, from which I understood for the very first time just what the thing is supposed to do.
Add in a very reasoable entrance charge, and a refreshment area that sold tea for 50 cents (how unlike the rip-offs in some of our British establishments), and you have an extremely worthwhile morning or afternoon ahead of you. Allow at least three or four hours if you are at all interested in the history of science, technology or medicine.
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