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The Power of Poison - Old Truman Brewery

Exhibition preview

UK PROMOTERS ExhibiTours are bringing an adaptation of The American Museum of Natural History’s entertaining and illuminating exhibition, The Power of Poison, to East London’s Truman Brewery from May 16, 2015, revealing the strange and intriguing things that happen when humans and toxic substances collide.

For as long as people have created myths, they’ve told stories about the mysterious powers of poison. What evolved in animals and plants as a defence against predators or a means of preying has been used by humans throughout history for magic, murder, villainy and, more recently, to create ground-breaking medical breakthroughs.

The Power of Poison explores the role of poison in nature, myth and human health. Visitors will encounter some of history’s most puzzling poisoning cases, step into the pages of fairy tales, use clues to solve poisoning mysteries, and take part in a live theatre presentation to help unravel a real-world case of poisoning as this fascinating exhibition examines how toxins shape our lives.

This new, family-friendly special exhibition creates an engaging and immersive environment through the use of interactive components, models, multimedia and live animals. Whether as a defence against predators, a source of magical strength, or a lifesaving medical treatment, the story of poison is filled with mystery, intrigue, fascinating tales and surprising benefits.

Carol Stenberg of UK promoters ExhibiTours said today: “Inspirational and spellbinding, The Power of Poison is a highly theatrical exhibition suitable for all ages that explores the many roles that poison has played in nature, history, culture and beyond.”

And Mark Siddall, curator of the original American Museum of Natural History Exhibition said: “Millions of years of evolutionary history have produced a rich diversity of poisons across all groups of plants and animals, an arsenal of biochemical weapons. In this exhibition we illuminate how poison is used in the natural world and the evolutionary history behind it, as well as the ways in which people have used poisons to try and understand their powers through the centuries.”

Explore how the power of poison affects many aspects of our lives:

Poison in nature

Visit Columbia’s Choco Forest: Organisms use poison to protect themselves or capture prey. Walk through this immersive exhibit and observe toxic species of plants and animals whilst considering: What is it? Who or what is its target? How does it use poison, and why?

Poison in myth and legend

Once upon a time (or until germs were discovered), people couldn’t tell if sickness was caused by infection, poison or even magic. Stories of dramatic poisonings intrigue because they are mysterious and frightening, and because many contain a kernel of truth. Examine here the reality behind fascinating tales such as the Witches of Macbeth, Snow White, Mad Hatters and Greek Legends before taking a look at the Poisons In Literature bookshelf…

Detecting poison

Step inside the Victims and Villains Gallery and discover how, from Cleopatra to Napoleon, history is filled with famous poisonings, many of which remain unsolved. Explore how these figures may have died.

Understanding Poisons Live Presentation. Throughout most of history, people had little understanding of what was poisonous, and why. Until the mid-1800s, when scientists developed forensic tools to detect poisons in the human body, many deaths remained a mystery.

Poison by accident

Get Interactive and solve case studies. Intentional poisonings are rare today, but accidental poisonings do happen. Using iPads, visitors can investigate evidence, compare clues and weed out red herrings to figure out what poisoned a dog, an owl and Captain Cook.

Poison for good

Toxins extracted from plants and animals, including venoms, are being studied to treat conditions such as high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis and cancer. Here, explore how poisons are increasingly becoming of benefit to humanity.

For tickets, call 020 3373 8993 or visit

Old Truman Brewery Loading Bay, Ely’s Yard, 15 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR