About the museum

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Rijksmuseum Boerhaave is the Netherlands’ treasure chamber of science and medicine.

What were the major discoveries in the history of science in the Netherlands? Who were the researchers behind them and how great is the impact of their discoveries on our lives today? Find out more about their inventions and join us in thinking about today’s big issues.

With a collection spanning five centuries of research and innovation and based on close collaboration with prominent modern scientists, Rijksmuseum Boerhaave offers visitors of all ages a fascinating insight into the world of science.

Who was Herman Boerhaave?

Our museum has been named after Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738), one of the leading scientists in Europe in his day. He was an allrounder: a skilled physician, anatomist, botanist, chemist, humanist and researcher. He had a great reputation as a teacher at the University of Leiden and for a long time held three of the five chairs in its Faculty of Medicine. He was also Rector of the University of Leiden and Director of the Hortus botanicus.

Herman Boerhaave - painted by Cornelis Troost

The monumental building

Approaching the building from the street, it is not immediately obvious that Rijksmuseum Boerhaave is located in a magnificent monument with a rich history. Originally built as St Caecilia’s Convent in 1440, the building next sheltered the city’s plague victims and the mentally afflicted. The building then went on to become the first academic hospital in Northern Europe as St Caecilia’s Hospital. Some three hundred years ago, Herman Boerhaave instructed his students here at his patients’ bedside.

Van Leeuwenhoek replica

Our museum is widely known for its replicas of Van Leeuwenhoek’s microscope, made  with great skill and devotion by our expert restoration staff. If you wish to order one, or would like more information, please send us an e-mail. We look forward to helping you with any queries.

Van Leeuwenhoek microscope

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