Our new public exhibition space is now open at No. 11 Queen Street, Edinburgh. For the first time, visitors will be able to access the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and view thematic exhibitions for free, based on the wealth of historic collections which we hold.
Our first exhibition is ‘Searching for the Elixir of Life: The Mysteries and Legacies of Alchemy’.
In this exhibition we are showcasing a selection of rare books and manuscripts which were used in the search of a medical legend.
It is hard for us in the 21st Century to see the world as the alchemists did. When the books and manuscripts on display in this exhibition were written and illustrated there were no strict boundaries between alchemy and what we now know as chemistry or medicine.
Alchemists believed that the codes and puzzles contained in these texts mapped out the way to transform base metals like tin and lead into gold. Even better, they believed that if they used the coded steps described in these books to guide their experiments, they would discover the Elixir of Life. At the heart of this process of transformation is the Philosophers’ Stone.
The doctors knew if they succeeded in making the Elixir or gold that they could be in danger, as there were plenty of jealous rivals who would happily harm their financial and physical wellbeing to get their hands on these wonders.
Will you be the first successful person to decode these texts in over 300 years? Join us in the search for the Elixir of Life.