We are a university museum of medicinal plants and pharmacy. Our historical collections focus on traditional knowledge of medicinal plants and their use practices. They represent the historical evolution and development of plant based medicines at a global level. However, there is very little information available on traditional knowledge and medicinal plants development and research in Belgium, Brussels and even at the university which hosts the existing collections. Valuable information on these topics is missing at the moment in the museum, and often disappoints visitors to the exhibitions. We would like to bring together the history of medicinal plants and living traditions related to medicinal plants knowledge in Belgium, Brussels and Université Libre de Bruxelles.
Bringing intangible cultural heritage to our museum is a high priority and important mission of the museum. The museum is taking part in the ULB Museums Network, where connections between material heritage collections and intangible cultural heritage are regularly discussed and promoted.
We are actively following the work and events of local communities, interact with them, and if needed provide them with evidence based information and support.
A co-creation project
At the moment we are about to establish a new co-creation project, “Nature connection for health and resilience through learning, cultivating and foraging medicinal plants in the city,” and we are applying for Innoviris funds to support it for a three-year period. The main goal from the museum side in this project is to create close links between the museum and local communities who keep alive medicinal plants use traditions and knowledge, and who are foraging and cultivating those plants in urban gardens and local city farms. At the moment there are several dynamic and active communities in Brussels that promote intangible cultural heritage of medicinal plants in the city. We would like to create a vital dialogue with them and create a living city laboratory, where bridges between contemporary modern research and medicinal plants use traditions are created involving citizens, local communities, scientists and city planners, in order to promote healthy and resilient city life. In this mobile living city laboratory, Brussels inhabitants will learn about the intangible cultural heritage of medicinal plants, and will explore how science and society can interact aiming to safeguard intangible cultural heritage.
Various activities related to the traditional use, foraging and cultivation in cities of medicinal plants have been, and are being organised by local communities over the course of the last decade. There are numerous intergenerational activities where families, schools and neighbourhoods are interacting, growing and sharing knowledge. However, both these communities and our museum realised that there is so far no way of documenting those developments, and no methodology to investigate existing and evolving traditional knowledge on medicinal plants that is changing over the time. In this project local communities will work with the museum to develop methodology on knowledge sharing and documenting medicinal plants related activities in the city, which all participants consider to be important in the long term, in order to safeguard intangible cultural heritage and medicinal plants traditions.
Photo: (c) Museum of Medicinal Plants and Pharmacy
Dr. Vitalija Povilaityte-Petri is a Lithuanian scientist working in Belgium, focused on historical and contemporary research and the use of medicinal and food plants. She studies dynamics and social processes in the safe, sustainable and responsible use of medicinal and edible plants, herbal medicinal products and botanical food supplements. Vitalija also analyses how green spaces, gardens and forests, salutogenic (health promoting), therapeutic landscapes and traditional knowledge contribute to human connectedness with nature, and to disease prevention and health promotion. She investigates what role urban nature, small scale farming, city gardening, healthy nutrition, forest/garden pharmacy, ethnobotanical knowledge and community involvement play in addressing societal, environmental and economic challenges.
25 May 2020 from 20:55 to 20:55
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