All Things Apothecary in 16th-20th-century Transylvania. The History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca

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grant of the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research UEFISCDI


Total contract value: 1.192.842 lei




The project envisages the publication in English of a complete catalogue of the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj, part of the National Museum of Transylvanian History, the conservation and restoration of some of these patrimony goods, and the research of the history of pharmacy in Transylvania during the 18th century based on the previously unpublished sources in the collection (manuscripts, jars, tools, printed materials) analyzed through innovative methods such as complex chemical analyses of preserved pharmaceutical preparations (mass spectrometry, chromatography), as well as through the new data obtained through the ongoing restoration work of the oldest pharmacy in Cluj (the Hintz House that houses the collection). This will be the first exhaustive catalogue of the collection (6 volumes, ca. 2500 artifacts dated to the 16th-20th centuries), a valuable source for future studies, that will be made available online and will be sent to 150 libraries in Romania and abroad. The proposed research is deeply interdisciplinary, at the intersection of fields of study such as entangled and global history, history of technology, social and economic history, cultural and museum studies (in which the project leader and the team members have studies and experience).

The general goal of the project is to provide the first exhaustive catalogue of the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca and to make it accessible to a wide array of specialists and the wider international audience. We envisage a six-volume catalogue in English, A4 or larger format, with numerous color illustrations, printed min. 300 copies. The catalogue will be printed by an accredited publishing house in Romania and shall be sent by mail to ca. 150 museums and libraries in Romania and abroad through the book exchange network of the MNIT and the network of specialist and museums created through the project. The catalogue will also be made available online (pdf format) on the dedicated website.

One can identify several intermediate/secondary objectives:

O1. to provide team members the opportunity to visit history of pharmacy museums in order to gain insight into their conservation, restoration and display strategies, to acquire specialized secondary literature regarding such collections for analogies and an in-depth knowledge of the state of the art, and for networking.

O2. to clean, consolidate, and restore the artifacts that require such specialized interventions (ca. 500 artifacts).

O3. to gain new knowledge on the artifacts in the collection through the latest methods: microscope investigation, micro-photographs, and especially chemical analyses of materia medica preserved in some of the old containers.

O4. to transcribe, translate, and analyze all manuscripts in the collection, most of which have never been edited before.

O5. to research and present the most relevant new discoveries made regarding the history of pharmacy during 18th-century Transylvania as reflected by the collection under discussion during international conferences and at least 3 articles in prestigious periodicals (ISI/ErihPlus).

O6. to promote the project, its activities, and its results (the catalogue) through: a dedicated website; posts on social media platforms; and a book launch event in 2023.

The most significant result of the project is the six-volume catalogue of the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj. Another result is the creation of a dedicated website in Romanian and English, affiliated to the website of the National Museum of Transylvanian History in Cluj-Napoca, promoting the project, the collection and including all volumes of the catalogue in a free download format. We also envisage the publication of min. 3 articles in prestigious periodicals and presentations during several national and international conferences and meetings.

The catalogue will become a useful tool for future researches in Romania and abroad, providing the basic data for study and comparative material for other collections. The project will also contribute to the conservation, restoration, and promotion of the cultural (and technical) heritage of Transylvania/Romania. The research results of the present project can become a model of inter-disciplinary approach applied to the 18th-century history of pharmacy in Transylvania.




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