Furnishing the Modern Scientific Laboratory


Benjamin Pike, Jr. Pike's Illustrated Descriptive Catalogue of Optical, Mathematical and Philosophical Instruments, Manufactured, Imported, and Sold by the Author; with the Prices Affixed at which they are Offered in 1848. New York: The Author, 1848.

For centuries, early laboratory apparatus and equipment was custom built, whether it consisted of mortar and pestles carved from stone, copper bowls, or glass beakers. It was only in the middle of the nineteenth century that these products became commercially available and were advertised through trade catalogs and in newspapers. 

In general, early equipment didn’t differ very much from the laboratories of today. Laboratory benches, cabinets, and a heat source were customary, and remain so today in most scientific settings. By the nineteenth century, this arrangement was common to universities, and in the twentieth century, even secondary schools were furnished with well-equipped laboratories.

This section of the exhibit looks at laboratory equipment, furniture, and design in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Furnishing the Modern Scientific Laboratory