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Bristol-Myers Squibb European Apothecary

The Bristol-Myers Squibb European Apothecary is an eclectic collection of more than fourteen hundred pharmaceutical items assembled over a period of forty years by Dr. Jo Mayer, a Jewish pharmacist from Wiesbaden, Germany. The collection came to the Smithsonian Institution in 1945 when the pharmaceutical company E.R. Squibb & Sons, through the American Pharmaceutical Association, deposited it with the United States National Museum. It is the largest, most comprehensive collection of its kind in North America, and a window into the world of medicine centuries before the discovery of antibiotics and sterilization. The collection includes Baroque wooden cabinets and stained glass windows from the Muenster Apotheke of Freiburg im Breisburg; oil paintings and prints; bronze mortars and pestles; brilliantly colored majolica albarelli jars and glass apothecary jars; copper distillation equipment; pharmacopeias; and the stuffed creatures found suspended from ceilings in old-world apothecaries. While the collection is predominantly 18th century Germanic, it includes objects from the 15th to the 19th century and across central and western Europe.