CHF has mounted numerous exhibits featuring objects from CHF collections as well as objects on loan. Many of these exhibits were created in cooperation with other institutions, including the Hagley Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the Franklin Institute, and the American Philosophical Society. Past exhibits at CHF include
The Alchemical Quest
As the science of matter, alchemy had a wide range of applications, including metallurgy, distillation, chemical medicine, and transmutation. This exhibit, which featured rare alchemical books of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries drawn exclusively from the collections of the Othmer Library of Chemical History, engaged visitors in an exploration of the golden age of alchemy and encouraged them to recognize alchemy as the root of modern chemistry.
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Inspiring Youth in Chemistry
The United Nations designated 2011 the International Year of Chemistry. This exhibit explored three programs that reached out to the world’s youth to encourage them to become more engaged with science and their chemical world.
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Elemental Matters: Artists Imagine Chemistry
The artists in Elemental Matters invent different ways to experience the elements and the periodic table.
Listen for the sound of phosphorus. Read hydrogen in braille. View 400 tiny red lights fueled by potassium residues in a mountain. See a body’s nitrogen quota contained in a flask. Explore the exhibit ›
Marvels and Ciphers: A Look Inside the Flask
For centuries, with means ranging from alchemy to quantum-enabled technologies, scientists have struggled to understand the material world—with varying degrees of success. Public responses to scientific debate and discovery are even more varied. A single breakthrough can elicit fascination and hope as well as anxiety and fear. With paintings, photographs, books, and cartoons, Marvels and Ciphers explored the inevitable social complexity of scientific pursuits. View the exhibit page ›
A dynamic multimedia exhibition that presents plants as complex, living beings, this exhibit features time-lapse movies which showed plants as they sense and respond to their environment. The gallery-style presentation includes photographs of remarkable plants, original sound compositions based on plant movements, concise text, and live plant material. View Indiana University’s exhibit site ›
Molecules That Matter
This exhibit showcases ten organic molecules that profoundly altered our world in the twentieth century: aspirin, isooctane, penicillin, polyethylene, nylon, DNA, progestin, DDT, Prozac, and buckminsterfullerene. By associating each molecule with a decade of the twentieth century, the show demonstrated the impact molecular science has on us as individuals and as a society. Purchase the exhibit book ›
Joseph Priestley, Radical Thinker
A special exhibit on the life and times of Joseph Priestley—18th-century philosopher, radical thinker, and founding father of modern chemistry. Purchase the exhibit book ›
An exhibit on 20th-century chemical instrumentation and the transformation of the chemical sciences, showcasing over 15 instruments, including Arnold Beckman’s groundbreaking pH meter.