"The Museum goes to school", initiative is designed to respond to the absence of study trips of the Lisbon and Porto museums, due to the pandemic health measures. The programme includes educational videos and interactive questionnaires that help to understand the evolution of the pharmacy from prehistory to the present moment, showing children that there have been other epidemics in human history.
Following the lockdown imposed by the state of emergency, the new model of the Pharmacy Museum has eight modules and was launched in early November. The visit can be adapted for children, schools or the general public upon registration. The museum's collection allows you to travel from prehistory and the beginnings of the use of medicinal herbs to space pharmacy used by NASA astronauts, thanks to a protocol with the U.S. space agency. Specifically, for the current context, a theme was created on masks and epidemics.
"We are giving the opportunity to have different classes and for children to leave school without leaving the classroom. There is a guide and a tutorial and there is a lot of interactivity so that children are not listening to a guide talking or watching videos for an hour. You are watching a presentation that includes a little bit of everything and interacts with the viewer", said Gonçalo Magano.
Some modules include an explanation that is more dedicated to education, in others the animation "gives life" to the pieces. Students are then asked to answer questions about the article being submitted. The experience, according to the curator, is a positive one and one of the advantages is the possibility of combining the visit to the two museums, in Lisbon and Porto, which would not be possible to physically do in one day.
The museum's estate tells the history of health and pharmacy throughout all periods and spans on different civilizations. In the virtual visit, the core of the Middle Ages presents the plague and the fight against epidemics. Additionally, we talk about medicines and the fight against the black plague. “We have the mask and the black plague section and we did a research paper. We crossed our collection with the news, with the videos and with the material we have now collected on covid-19 and we built this core", revealed the curator of the museum. Before reaching the black plague that haunted Europe, visitors pass through Ancient Egypt and Classical Antiquity, a journey that also immerses in traditional Chinese culture, scientific revolution and the discovery of penicillin.
Although it was always part of the museum's collection, the black plague theme has been enhanced for the now-launched virtual tour. "We try to get some more information and make almost a parallel between what happened in the fourteenth century and then in the seventeenth century, with the black plague, and what is happening at the moment", said the curator.
"We tried to demystify here what this fight against the plague was. In the visits I've been making to schools, I try to shed some hope. Obviously, this is all new to us, but this has already happened, history teaches us that it is cyclical, that it has already happened and that it was much more devastating", maintained Gonçalo Magano. "Of course, this pandemic is growing a lot, but when we look at the images and what we try to show in the black plague video, we see a disease that devastated a third of Europe," he exclaimed.
The guides try to show how these situations were “turned around” by man and how there are now more resources and we are more prepared than at the time when the black plague arrived in Europe through the merchant caravans from China and spread rapidly through coastal cities, driven by poor health and housing conditions. The black plague is described as the largest pandemic in human history, with outbreaks in the 14th, 17th and 19th centuries. In Europe, it will have wiped out a third of the population.