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Header image of an open book page featuring a drawing of an alchemist in the middle of experimentations.
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John M. Olin Library, Ginkgo Reading Room

Secret Sciences: The Hidden Arts of Alchemy

A page from the Arcana Arcanissima featuring alchemic drawings of Osiris, Typhon, Isis, Ibis, Apls, and Cynocephalvs.
Michael Maier’s Arcana Arcanissima.

In the popular imagination, alchemy is often synonymous with the transmutation of lead into gold. But while this was certainly one of the alchemists’ goals, their “mysterious art” encompassed much more than chrysopoeia.

Drawing on the rich holdings of the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections and the rare book collections of Bernard Becker Medical Library, the Secret Sciences exhibition examines the numerous facets of alchemy, ranging from its scientific applications to its complicated symbolic language to its influence on the visual and literary arts.

This exhibition was organized by Rare Books Curator Cassie Brand and Head of Rare Books at Bernard Becker Medical Library Elisabeth Brander.

Header Image Credit: Loves Garland by James Roberts Brown.

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