Bogomolets National Medical University

Department of Bioorganic and Biological Chemistry


As part of a cultural and educational project

«Locus intellegentiae»

Department of Bioorganic and Biological Chemistry offers



In the center of Lviv, in the old building on the Rynok Square (at the corner of the streets of the Drykarskya and Stavropolsky), there is a pharmacy “Under the Black Eagle”, which has been working since 1735. On its base  in 1966 the museum was established. A lot of exhibits and high-quality artistic accompaniment, well-planned exhibits show the history of medicine and pharmacy from ancient times to the beginning of the twentieth century, illustrate the connection of alchemy-yatrochemistry-chemistry.


The Entrance to the pharmacy


At the entrance, visitors are greeted by bronze figures of the ancient god of healing Asclepius (Esculap) and his daughters – the goddess of health Gigi. Look and you will see there are ancient scales behind the back of these figures.


The Figures of Asclepius and Gigi



The mural painting of the pharmacy hall symbolizes the four elements of ancient philosophers – fire, air, water and earth. There are bizarre glasses  in the tall cabinets. The pharmacy-museum also works as a regular pharmacy where you can buy modern medicines.



One of the exhibits is an early example of a kerosene lamp invented in Lviv in the mid-19th century by pharmacists Jan Zech and Ignatius Lukasiewicz


The image of four elements


The exposition is continued by the pharmacy’s workrooms and offices.


Containers and boxes for medical herbs



Diploma of the doctor of Michael Terletsky, the last owner of the pharmacy



There are a lot of  examples of pharmacy and chemical equipment, laboratory glassware here.

The press



The devices for the production  plant extracts



Who knows, perhaps, the legendary Berthold Schwartz made his historic explosion in such a mortar?



Gradually pharmacy utensils are becoming for more and more “alchemical”.

Look on the image of Ouroboros (a  snake swallowing its tail) – an available and meaningful alchemical symbol


Finally, the “alchemical premonition” reaches its highest point and looks to the search.

From the typical medieval courtyard there are two paths – in the basement and in the upper floor which leads to the Renaissance wing. Both ways  direct us in the age of alchemy.

In the inner courtyard there is a figure of a sorceress who symbolizes the traditions of ancient folk medicine. The gallery of the second floor is decorated with reliefs depicting prominent figures, including Avicenna, Paracelsus and Yuri Drohobych – The Doctor of Medicine, Rector of the University of Bologna and the first Ukrainian who became the author of the printed book.


The cellars of the building, dating from the XV – XVI centuries, emphasize antiquity and evoke memories of the dark times of the Inquisition.


This part of the exhibition is undoubtedly designed for emotional impact on the visitor. Suddenly in the darkness of the dungeon, a bowed figure in a black hooded outfit looks around – a medieval alchemist busy grinding substances away from people’s eyes and stubbornly continuing his secret business, despite the flow of centuries.



Finally, on the second floor we find what we were looking for – an alchemical laboratory. Of course, this is a historical reconstruction, but for the sake of the restorers in the ancient times  there could indeed be an alchemical laboratory: the small room retained traces of a large number of chimneys – evidence of a specific, for  incomprehensible purposes now.


The Glass retorts


Stoves, books, alchemical supplies, stuffed animals



According to the legend when restoration of the building was found there were the remains of mysterious chimneys, in ancient smoky analysis revealed a huge content of mercury and gold. This remark affects on the visitor not only at the conscious level, adding historical weight to the modern reconstruction, but also at the subconscious level, where it creates an atmosphere of personal touch to the Magnum Opus (Medieval Actions) of medieval adherents. Of fundamental importance here is the fact of the creation of the legend – the feeling and response of the museum to the perhaps clearly unspecified but definitely social request …


A copy of Hadrian van Ostade’s painting «The Alchemist» is also presented in the interior of the lab, showing Elixir’s seeker while working in the lab, thus creating a presence effect. The image of the alchemist was very popular among artists of the XVII – XVIII centuries.


Of course, the virtual excursion format does not allow us to show you the entire exposition of the pharmacy museum, but that is not our goal. However, we hope that we have succeeded to make you you interested in and personally touch the history of medicine and chemical science by visiting the “place of understanding” – locus intellegentiae.



The Department of Bioorganic and Biological Chemistry presents

cultural and educational project “locus intellegentiae”


Probably, no one will argue that the professional growth of a medical student is not only the assimilation of educational material, but also the multifaceted development of the individual, the general increase of the cultural level, the formation of a wide range of competences, the personally colored involvement of “sources”; not only knowledge but also understanding.

In this context, it is necessary to pay attention to such a phenomenon as a museum, because it is this sociocultural institute that implements a specific attitude of the person to reality, connected with the purposeful selection from the historical heritage of objects that represent certain human values ​​and cultural and historical realities. According to the Ukrainian museum’s scientist O. Klimyshyn, the museum is not a place of knowledge, but a place of understanding.

“Locus of Understanding” – “locus intellegentiae” (Latin) – this is the name we chose for our cultural and educational project.


As part of a cultural and educational project

«Locus intellegentiae»

Department of Bioorganic and Biological Chemistry offers



The idea of ​​a “pharmacy museum”  has a great value to medical students – as purely educational, cognitive, and cultural and ideological. At one time, the head of the National Museum in Lviv, I. Sventitsky wrote: “In a modern museum one wants to find either the beautiful, or the instructive, or the wonderfull secret, in order to find the basis for future forms of his creative life.” So all three of these attributes belong to the sociocultural image of the high mission of physicians and pharmacists, who have invented, produced and disseminated various ways to fight with human diseases over the centuries.

So let’s start our virtual tour of the Kyiv Pharmacy Museum’s exposition.

The pharmacy museum signboard


The Kyiv pharmacy museum is located on Pritysko-Mykola Street on Podil, in an authentic 18th-century building. From 1728 to 1839, a pharmacy owned by the German Johann Geiter and later by the Bungee family, including Mykola Bunge, the rector of St. Vladimir’s University and Prime Minister of the Russian Empire. The museum was opened here after its restoration in 1988. The name of the first owner of the pharmacy was immortalized in the museum’s exposition next to Libra, a symbol of the pharmacy.

“Johann Geiter’s Pharmacy”



Separate thematic halls of the museum are devoted to the history of medicine in various manifestations – from classical antiquity to the Kiev-Russian heritage and folk traditions of Ukrainian antiquity.

Busts of Founding Fathers of Medicine


The scenes from the ancient life

Medical miniatures from ancient manuscripts. Medical knowledge was cultivated by the monks of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, and this is fully according to the pan-European medieval tendencies, when the clergy was the predominant carrier of scientific culture.

Exposition of a rural witch doctor’s house demonstrates another variant of historical development of medical knowledge on the territory of Ukraine


The first floor of the museum is a pharmacy of the 18th – 19th centuries, including a doctor’s office. Among the exhibits there are pharmacy utensils, furniture, tools for the manufacture of drugs, pharmacy packaging and more. There is also the diversity of the scales of different designs, the ancient labels of drugs – drugs that now seem familiar and trivial, but at one time probably caused a great furore in society. There are also reproductions of ancient paintings and engravings on the subject of medieval pharmacy and inseparablу alchemical and yatrochemical (from Greek. Ιατρός – physician) exercises. This concept organically fits such exhibits as dried bat and spirited snakes. All of these perfectly illustrates the deep and inseparable connection of medicine with chemistry and biochemistry.


Pharmacy interiors

The vintage labels and promotional materials.

Glycerin receives Grand Prix at the 1900 Paris World Exhibition

Barbell, bottles, glasses, dried bat, spirited snakes


If you go down to the cellar of the pharmacy museum, you can travel to other, much more ancient times. In addition to the room of the monk and the monk’s cell, there is another attraction waiting for the visitor – the alchemist’s laboratory! Photography cannot give the impression that a mysterious figure of an adept of secret art, occupied with painstaking and prolonged labor of making miraculous elixirs, suddenly emerges from the darkness before you.

The alchemist figure in lab


An important area of activity of the alchemists, along with the search for ways to convert the base metals into gold, were yatrochemical exercises. The famous Paracelsus (Philip Aureol Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim, 16th c.) called alchemy one of the “pillars of true medicine” because its purpose was “to prepare Medicines, pure and precious medicines.” However, for many centuries before him, it was in medicine that real alchemy was seen by the Arab classic Razes (Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zachary Ar-Razi, IX-X cc.). compared the achievement of truth. Interesting, the term “alchemy” itself originates from Arab, and the figure in the museum’s exposition of the laboratory in its outfit is similar to that of the Middle East alchemist.


The furnace is the central element of the alchemist’s laboratory.

It has reconstructed accessories for various purposes



One of the absolute merits of alchemists is the development of methods for the production of pure substances – a fundamental importance both for chemical science and for medicine and pharmacy. One os such methods is distillation. A variety of distillation supplies are at the museum.

Clay retorts are vessels with a long outlet for condensation of the substance vapor

A more sophisticated metal distillation apparatus in the hall next to the alchemist’s laboratory



The hall next to the alchemist’s laboratory is a so-called pub. Here, in a cool room, barrels of wine, which were also a medicine, were stored. Large barrels are presented in the exposition today. In addition, there are already mentioned distillation apparatus, antique utensils and many interesting artifacts.

The ancient pharmacy tableware


Paracelsus is associated with the famous saying: only the dose distinguishes the poison from the medicine. Therefore, the urgent need for a doctor and a pharmacist has long been  accurately weighing the ingredients. It is accepted that an integral feature of the formation of classical science in the XVII century was the reliance on exact values, the systematic introduction of quantitative methods. Simply put, scientists became scientists when they began to measure and weigh. However, it should be remembered that they had numerous precursors – pharmacists, physicians, and some alchemists, who practiced quantitative approaches and precise values, developed systems of measures, and improved the design of measuring instruments. Again, we are reminded of pharmacy scales in an ancient dungeon.

The ancient jar and the pharmacy scales


Of course, much is left out: it is impossible to fully convey here the entire volume of the exposition of the Pharmacy Museum, moreover, the impression that it makes on the visitor. Here, rational knowledge is harmoniously combined with emotional perception, and this is probably a characteristic feature of the museum. Of course, it requires personal involvement in a kind of mystery of the museum universe – touching the mysteries of the past, comprehending them and rethinking them in the context of the present, understanding and restoring the “present and past age” connection.


Therefore, this virtual excursion is made not to open and  to close the topic, but rather to interest medical students and invite them to a real excursion to an old pharmacy on the quiet street of Kyiv Podil.