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Biomedicine in museums

Pharma lab chemical compound bottles as designer's objects for collecting

I must admit I’ve never paid much attention to chemical compound packages. But, of course, when you think about it — there they are, lots of variegatedly coloured bottles and plastic containers stacked on the shelves behind more fancy and eye-catching instruments and displays. A pedestrian, infrastructural backdrop to the more sophisticated scenery on the bench.

I thought about them, because one of my favourite science blogs — Derek Lowe’s well-written, professional, insightful (and almost daily updated) In the Pipeline (see earlier enthusiastic review here) — describes the different kinds of packages that arrive in his pharma lab. For example, the Japanese company TCI

sends a lot of its compounds in normal-looking glass bottles, but these are first put inside capped plastic containers, like larger translucent versions of the ones that 35mm film probably still comes in.

Maybridge, on the other hand, sends their compounds in

these weird little squat brown-glass bottles with small black caps on them. They must have the world supply of that particular bottle shape tied up, since I’ve never seen one anywhere else.

And so on and so forth. Collecting lab artefacts will never be the same again.

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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