The Apothecary of the Royal Convent of Tomar
The exhibition The Apothecary of the Royal Convent of Tomar is part of the cultural program of the Convent of Christ, continuing the “Exhibition in Context” project (started with the conventual dishware of the Refectory of the Friars), and bringing into the public domain the splendid set of pots and vases of blue-and-white faience from its pharmacy, which have remained in storage for many years.
Calling the public's attention to the discovery of the secret world of apothecaries and revealing the role played by this particular apothecary in the organisation of monastic life, we hope to offer, with the contribution of a wide range of specialists, a broad multidisciplinary perspective of the world of healing by characterising this monastic house, its apothecary and infirmary during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Saints, prayers and amulets, ex-votos, pots and vases, glassware and mortars, syringes, cabinets, bookcases, highly decorated counters and ceilings have been gathered and displayed in a somewhat ascetic, mysterious and splendorous atmosphere. The evocation of the Cabinets of Wonders is enhanced by the presence, amidst medical treaties, secret remedies and drugs, of exotic animals and plants from far-flung territories.
The selection presented contributes to recreate the aura of a conventual pharmacy in the 17th and 18th centuries, gradually influenced by secularism and a taste for scenographic baroque, in an indelible compromise between the mystical and the sacred and the dawn of Science. Modern advanced pharmaceutical research and also rural naturalist traditional therapies derives from the century-old quest of Mankind for the eternal search for healing the illnesses of body, spirit and soul.
This journey through the spaces of the Great Infirmary and New Apothecary, in the Johannine and Philippine areas (still closed to the public) invites a reflection on the functionality and sustainability of the monastic complex, including new construction and renovations: the modification and extension of the Templar fortress turret in a splendid Hall-Room - The Bela Vista Room - or the monumental aqueduct that decisively changed the architectural face of the building, giving it a majestic character, typical of a Convent and Royal House.
The connection to local surroundings, among gardens, orchard, garden and woods, integrated in the smooth landscape of the town, profoundly marked by the organisational system of the Order of Christ, are also included in the exhibition programme. A ubiquitous Nature converted into remedies at the disposal of those who inhabited the Convent and of the local population they took care of.
The result of an unprecedented partnership with the Museum of Pharmacy, National Palace of Mafra, National Tile Museum and Polytechnic Institute of Tomar, and counting with the collaboration of several scientific and technical experts, this exhibition clearly contributes to deepen the reflection on this space and this monument, while improving the tour experience.
The invitation is made. This exhibition is another reason to visit and re-discover this remarkable monumental complex, Templar castle and convent of the Order or Christ, declared as UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983.