The heritage of the 21st century, a history of the future
Le 04/08/2016 à 16h11 par Dominique KASSEL


On September 19th and 21st, 2015, the European Heritage Days were themed : The heritage of the 21st century, a history of the future. For the 32nd edition, this cultural event, more unifying than ever, featured : an invitation to turn our gaze on fifteen years of creation and innovation  that demonstrate the vitality of our times; an observation of the patrimonial process as historical continuity in which the most recent creations compose tomorrow’s heritage ; a query about our legacy to future generations ; an opportunity for the institution to take a look at the first 15 years of the 21st century : 15 years to put into perspective the future of the pharmaceutical heritage.


Olivier Gross,  National Order of Pharmacists  (FIP Düsseldorf 2015) 




"The heritage of the 21st century: a history of the future". This issue challenges us and offers the opportunity to present three major steps in our actions to support pharmaceutical assets since the early 2000.




In January 2000, a museum space was created in the "Moorish pavilion"


The rehabilitation of the headquarters of the National Order of Pharmacists (CNOP) made it possible to implement "History Collections" in a dedicated building called "Moorish Pavilion" in January 2000. The pavilion built at the request of Gaston Menier, in the late nineteenth century, is characteristic of the family style. It housed a parking area for five cars, a saddlery, stables for twelve horses and several servant rooms. On the top floor was built a theatre room called “le théâtre des Folies Ruysdaël". It is now home to pharmaceutical heritage collections!




Two levels are dedicated to heritage. The library located on the upper level welcomes various audiences, such as students, teachers, historians, journalists. The ground floor is dedicated to the conservation of ancient collections and incorporates a museum space open to the public.

The "Pharmacy History Collections" are dedicated to conserving, managing, enhancing but also promoting the pharmaceutical heritage. As specialized private collections, they are close to business collections.


September 2011 marked the first participation of the Order in the European Heritage Days.


On this occasion, the President of CNOP validated a policy for a wide cultural mediation. Henceforth, the Order welcomes small groups of visitors throughout the year on appointment (about 3000 persons / year)




History of the collections from 1952 to 2013


Since 1952, the Order holds several collections of movable goods and objects with scientific and technical value and related to the history of pharmacy, through their department for Collections of the history of pharmacy.


In order to perpetuate this heritage, the Order created an endowment fund, to which they donated all goods and objects united in its history of pharmacy collections, and especially the collection of objects gathered by the association "preserve the pharmaceutical heritage", chaired by Mr Jacques Gravé.


During several presidencies, from Augustin Damiens to Isabelle Adenot, many objects, such as graphic and photographic documents, advertisements and commercials, have been patiently collected and preserved, and their evolution reflects the changes of the institution.


Custodian of ethics and of the art of pharmacy, the National Order of Pharmacists has always been interested in heritage since its creation in 1945.



From creation to preservation:

  • 1952 Martinot Presidency - Purchase of the Edmond Leclair collections: creation of the library
  • 1967 Arnal Presidency - Collection Maurice Bouvet: assignment and regulatory issues!
  • 1995 Parrot Presidency - creation of the association for preserving the pharmaceutical heritage: the first step from library to museum?
  • 2014 Adenot Presidency - creation of the Endowment Fund for the management and development of pharmaceutical heritage.


First step : 1952 Collection Edmond Leclair


Purchased in 1952, this collection of ancient books and pharmacopeia belonged to Edmond Leclair, pharmacy historian (Lille)

Around 500 references are identified in this collection in a catalogue devoted to old Pharmacopoeias, both French and foreign.

The collection is most valuable: geographically, publications originate from 23 foreign countries, and chronologically, they range from the 14th century to the early 20th century.

Manuscripts, collections of remedies and recipes from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century

Prints from Renou, Lemery, Charas, Pomet, and many others.



This collection shows a landscape of singular or official pharmacopoeias, regional or national pharmacopoeias, special pharmacopoeias, pharmacopoeias for the poor, pharmacopoeias and hospital forms, military pharmacopoeias.

And more specifically, a series of pharmacopoeias from northern France such as the Lille Pharmacopoeia, handwritten in 1694


Second step : 1967 Collection Maurice Bouvet (pharmacist, and founding member of the French society for pharmaceutical history)


The heirs of Maurice Bouvet, eager not to disperse his collection, wanted to donate it to the National Order of Pharmacists.

The collection is made of biographical records, some common history manuals and many different kinds of small objects, medicines and ancient packaging specimens...




Advertising inserts from the nineteenth and the early twentieth century, and mostly prints and engravings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (about 2000 items) completed the collection of ancient books.

This entire graphic collection reveals the passion of the collector and provides us with a history of pharmacy in pictures through humour and caricature.


Third step : 1995 Preserving the pharmaceutical heritage - creation of the association chaired by Mr Jacques Gravé


The association, compliant to the 1901 law, was founded in January 1995 under the auspices of the National Order of Pharmacists and the Society for pharmaceutical history.





Appointed by the Order of Pharmacists, the association was responsible for the identification, conservation and promotion of the items, or more generally, for any issue relevant to the knowledge of the history of pharmacy and sciences, and related in all aspects.

More than 2000 items were referenced by the collections of the association in late 2013.


Finally in December 2014, The National Order of Pharmacists  provides its heritage collections with new statuses!


"An endowment fund is created for the purpose of managing and developing the pharmaceutical heritage"

This endowment fund is twofold:

            - To collect, identify, gather, preserve and promote the collections of moveable goods and objects, along with the real property, in relation to the history of pharmacy, medicine and health sciences.

            - To enhance the awareness of a large audience on the history of pharmacy, through cultural mediation operations on all materials and formats available.

The operation of this fund is managed by a board of directors composed of nine members from the CNOP staff. To define the acquisition policy, the Board of Directors is assisted by an advisory committee of four members selected for their expertise in evaluating goods and objects.




This fund could "constitute a preliminary step towards the creation in the future of a foundation or a museum with the same purpose."


The endowment fund for the management and the promotion of the pharmaceutical heritage


The History of pharmacy collections and the collections of the association "Preservation of the Heritage" are now united to compose an inalienable fund (as do the 796 jars of the ‘droguier Menier’)



In total, 20 932 references have been identified during inventory.


This inventory is completed by many pictures:

• 13577 photographs are in the database of iconographic data.

The collections contain certain pieces which scientific or artistic significance are worth noticing.


In 2016 the precious collections of the endowment fund are opened to the world by the launch of the present heritage portal: "Art and the pharmaceutical heritage"





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