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Unlocking the potential of the RPS museum

UK academics collaborate with RPS museum team on interdisciplinary study of skincare products for Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) museum collection, and the expert knowledge of the museum team, is an “untapped resource that has the potential to impact both pharmacy and beyond”, according to three UK academics.

Thibaut Devièse, a researcher from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Szu Shen Wong, lecturer in pharmaceutical sciences at Keele University, and Jane Louise Draycott, research fellow in ancient science and technology at the University of Glasgow, are currently working with the RPS research team, led by Rachel Joynes, and the RPS museum team, led by John Betts. The researchers are collaborating on an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded project called ‘From natural resources to packaging, an interdisciplinary study of skincare products over time.’ The project explores the formulation and packaging of historical skincare products from the RPS and Boots archives.

In a letter of commendation sent to the Society on 18 May 2017, Devièse, Wong and Draycott describe the museum team as “incredibly knowledgeable about the collection”, adding that “their familiarity with the 45,000 items in the RPS collection is impressive … The AHRC project results prove the impact that the Museum team can have within the fields of History, Classics and Science.” They conclude that “a detailed cataloguing of the entire collection and the creation of a database that is accessible to the public would be fundamental in unlocking the Museum’s potential for public engagement and research impact.” 

Read an interview with John Betts, keeper of the RPS museum, here.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20202920

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Supplementary images

  • Head shot Rachel Joynes head of the RPS research team

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