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The Hortus hasn’t just been playing an important role in the development of botany for decades, but in medicine too. When the Hortus was founded in 1590, its original purpose was to facilitate research into medicinal plants. Throughout the ages, many important physicians and monarchs visited our prestigious university in Leiden. One of those was Peter the Great, who was the tzar of Russia from 1682 until 1725.

This was a turning point for innovation in Russian medicine. And not only that, because during one of his visits to Amsterdam Peter the Great met famed Dutch botanist and anatomist Frederik Ruijsch (1638-1731). Ruijsch was known for his preparations, which were essentially body parts preserved in formaldehyde. The Great was so impressed by these preparations, he purchased Ruijsch’ entire collection and brought them back to Russia.

Ages later, now a couple of years ago, Russia expert and PhD-researcher from LUMC Inge F. Hendriks was conducting research in the Military Medical Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was there that she discovered a small collection of Ruijsch’s preparations that were never exhibited to the public, something the Military Medical Museum now intends on doing after all those years.

To make this collection more approachable for the public, the Military Medical Museum started making a documentary about the subject. Because of the close historical bond that the University of Leiden and Military Medical Museum share, the crew came to the Netherlands to capture footage of the Academy buildings, the Senator’s hall and of course, the Hortus botanicus. They all played an important part in the medical history between Russia and the Netherlands.

And while they were here, it was a great (photo) opportunity for Paul Keßler to meet the Military Medical Museum’s vice president Dmitry Zhuravlev, film producer Roman Tamchenko and researcher Inge Hendriks, who accompanied them on their trip.

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