Books of Secrets: Writing and Reading Alchemy

Books of Secrets

Detail from An Alchemist in His Laboratory, follower of Gerard Dou, 17th century, oil on panel. Courtesy of Roy Eddleman. Photo by Will Brown.

The written word was central to the alchemical enterprise. Alchemists practiced the art of transforming matter, manipulating raw materials to intensify existing properties or produce new, desirable qualities. They circulated their recipes and procedures in writing, hiding their most closely guarded secrets in plain sight. Words and symbols communicated recipes and procedures in coded language that only alchemists were meant to understand.

Books of Secrets: Writing and Reading Alchemy displays, for the first time in a single exhibit at CHF, rare alchemical manuscripts alongside centuries-old art depicting alchemists at work.

Plan your visit

Books of Secrets: Writing and Reading Alchemy will be on display from December 5, 2014, to September 4, 2015.

Admission is free. The museum at CHF is open Monday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., and First Fridays, March to December, 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.

Check our visitor information page for directions to the museum, information on accessibility, and additional details to help you plan your visit. Group tours are available by appointment.

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