The Bibliotheca Antiqua di Aboca Museum is a precious collection of ancient books about a specific subject: medicinal plants
The collection contains 2,800 books, published since the earliest years of printing up to the first decades of the 20th century, and it documents the development of human knowledge on the healing use of plants.
The most important category of books is that of herb catalogues, which were once indispensable to identify plant species and describe their virtues.
Through the years, these herb catalogues became works of art, thanks to the precious illustrations that are proof of the evolution of printing techniques, with magnificent colours, phytographic precision and the evidence of scientific details.
The images they contain show how the osmosis between the works of the artist and of the scientist turns the idea of what is beautiful, extraordinary and complete into concrete images, typical of a work of art within an instrument whose uses were mostly medical: art at the service of health.
The Bibliotheca also contains numerous texts on pharmacology, chemistry and medicine, other than small volumes on “ancient secrets”, guardians of popular knowledge. There is one section dedicated to ancient prints, a precious source of images for the Museum's publications, and another on prescriptions handwritten by physicians and apothecaries.
The Museum's latest ambitious project is that of collecting herb and flower catalogues that describe medicinal plants from other continents, in order to obtain a rich documentation to be used for botanical, historical and scientific comparison.
The Bibliotheca Antiqua, located on the third floor of Palazzo Bourbon del Monte, can be consulted by scholars, upon reservation only.