Monday, September 5, 2011

And off to the science museum

we went. A few weeks ago, at the lab, a raffle was held for free tickets to a Circus and Science exposition at Boerhave Museum in Leiden. Of course I registered, and for once I got lucky and actually won. We had the tickets for a while now, and we noticed that the expiry date was September 4, this weekend.
 "Museum Boerhaave is the Dutch National Museum for the History of Science and Medicine. In 1931 it opened its doors. It is located in the former Caecilia Hospital, in the centre of Leiden. In terms of the history of science and medicine, the collections in Museum Boerhaave are among the most important in the world. This history begins in the middle of the 16th century, which is also the time of the earliest objects on display in the museum, including the not-to-be-missed world’s oldest herbarium. As well as some original drawings and books by VesaliusFrom the Dutch ‘golden age’ (17th century) come microscopes by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and pendulum clocks by Christiaan Huygens, his planetarium and telescope."
 There is a wooden amphiteater complete with  a dissection table in the middle and all kinds of curiosities, like a deformed piglet foetus that looks like a baby elephant. Or forceps from the seventeenth century. I was so happy that we went. Leeuwenhoek was some kind of teenage hero for me, ever since I read "Los cazadores de microbios" (Microbe hunters) by Paul de Kruif. 
 The place where the museum is located is a magic place in itself:
"The historic building in which Museum Boerhaave is located has had various functions over time. The original nunnery of St Caecilia dates from the early 15th century. Originally a nunnery, the building had become municipal property after the Reformation and shortly before 1600 was converted into a ‘plaque hospital and madhouse’. In 1635 it became an University hospital. It was here, around 1720, that Herman Boerhaave gave his famous sickbed lessons that drew medical students to Leiden from around the world. After extensive restoration, the building has been used as a museum."
 I think I must have been a crazy nun in another life. I always have this feeling in my gut when I am in cloysters and old hospitals. Talking of which, if you are in Barcelona, you shouldn't miss the Biblioteca Nacional de Catalunya , another magic and beautiful building, with a patio full of orange blossoms, that used to be a convent, medical university and hospital. It is also the place where Santiago Ramon y Cajal discovered neuron cells. 
And almost at the end of our visit, there was one last surprise, I felt like jumping up and down. (Maybe I did a bit). Because in the last room, dedicated to contributions from modern dutch scientists, there were the original sketches from Nikolaas Tinbergen, the ethologist who won the Nobel prize together with Kondrad Lorenz, for the famous seagull experiments*.  There is even an original photo of his (of a seagull chick) and the camera he used.
*Tinbergen N., and Perdeck, A.C. (1950). On the stimulus situation releasing the begging response in the newly hatched Herring Gull chick (Larus Argentatus argentalus Pont). Behavior 3:1-39


  1. This looks amazing! I love museums which haven't yet been refurbished and made really slick and boring. The piglet foetus is really weird!

  2. I had never heard of the seagull experiments, but it is very interesting. I love museums,of all kinds :)
    As for past lives...I was told what I was in the immediately past to this one :-O

  3. :) for once you got lucky! I don't remember the last time I did... I think someone up there must be sleeping on my shift!

  4. @ Claire yeah, little piglet is strange. I really thought it was an elephan with the ears and all. And yes to old places.

    @ Marcela, the experiments are a classic example, but I guess I am so familiar with it because of my background (not sure when I heard about them the first time since I also read ehology books for fun). Cool that someone told you about your past.

    @ Ines... oh it only means you will get lucky soon :)


I love your comments, let's talk .

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...