About Our Collections

At the Institute, we preserve historical materials related to scientific achievements from around the world. These collections allow us to tell stories and support an international community of visiting researchers. You can explore some highlights from your home—including rare books, videos, and scientific instruments—by browsing our digital, museum, library, and archival collections online.

Rare Books, Modern Books, and Journals

Our Othmer Library has over 150,000 modern books and journals in 15 languages, including hard-to-find sources like dye sample books and technical reports. We also have one of the greatest collections of rare books on chemistry in the world, with more than 7,000 volumes from the 15th to 19th centuries. Our growing collection of alchemical manuscripts includes documents handwritten by Sir Isaac Newton.

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Archives, Photographs, and Videos

Our archives preserve the documents, photographs, and moving images of significant individuals, businesses, and organizations. These unique and unpublished materials document more than 200 years of scientific history. 

Within one and a half miles of boxes, researchers can find the papers of the Dow Chemical Company, Rohm & Haas Company, and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. Additional highlights include notable immigrant scientists such as Georg Bredig and representations of 150 Nobel laureates. 

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Oral Histories

With over 1,200 interviews dating back to 1979, our oral history collection tells the story of 20th- and 21st-century science. We employ professional historians to conduct the interviews, edit the transcripts, and produce rich life stories. These narratives reveal hidden histories of scientific practice that often go uncaptured in written form. Hundreds of our oral history interviews are freely available in our digital collections!

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Fine Art

While not everything can be displayed in our museum, you will see some important pieces from our larger collection of more than 500 works of art. These range from oil paintings of 17th-century alchemists to 19th-century Chinese watercolors of technical processes. 

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Objects and Instruments

Our museum also holds many more scientific instruments and artifacts than what you see in our galleries. Objects like a dainty Bakelite bracelet or oversized mass spectrometer help us uncover the science that is all around us.

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