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The Alchemical Quest

On view from July 2 to December 31, 2012.

As the science of matter, alchemy had a wide range of applications, including metallurgy, distillation, chemical medicine, and transmutation. The Alchemical Quest, an exhibition featuring rare alchemical books of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries drawn exclusively from the collections of the Othmer Library, engaged visitors in an exploration of the golden age of alchemy and encouraged them to recognize alchemy as the root of modern chemistry.

The exhibition also highlighted two fathers of modern science, Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton, showing their involvement during this transitional period.

We gratefully acknowledge the generous support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Kathryn Hach-Darrow, the Fisher Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, and the ExxonMobil Chemical Company.



Pandora (Basel, 1582), page 247
Summa perfectionis (1542)
Conrad Gesner
Newe Iewell of Health (1576), title page
Conrad Gesner
Newe Iewell of Health (1576), page 211
Philip Ulstad
Coelum philosophorum (Strasbourg, 1527), title page
Hieronymus Brunschwig
Liber de arte distillandi de compositis (Strasbourg, 1512), title page

Pandora (Basel, 1582), page 247

Behind the Scenes

A video tour of the Alchemical Quest Rare Books Exhibit (7 min.)

Learn how a rare-books exhibit is designed and conceptualized in this video tour with our curator of rare books, James Voelkel.