Fatal Beauty: An Exhibit

The exhibit runs May – August 2022

Fatal Beauty

The HSHSL’s Historical Collections is home to the Pharmacy Historical Book Collection, which includes influential pharmacy and medical texts, dispensatories, pharmacopoeias, botanicals, and herbals from around the world dating from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries. Fatal Beauty, an exhibit in the HSHSL’s Weise Gallery, highlights stunning but deadly botanicals from the Pharmacy Collection.

Botanicals have been used since the first century B.C.E. to treat a variety of ailments; yet sometimes the most beautiful and helpful botanicals can also be the most dangerous when used improperly.

For example, Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) contains digitalin, which has been used since William Withering described its benefits in 1785 to treat heart conditions. However, the entire foxglove plant is considered toxic; consumption or absorption can cause gastrointestinal problems, headache, cardiac arrythmias, visual problems, and hallucinations.

The Fatal Beauty exhibit highlights botanicals that have traditional or modern medical benefits but when used improperly can have dangerous consequences. Admire with caution!

Upcoming Exhibits
Exhibit Archive