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Marvin Samson Center for the History of Pharmacy

Pharmacy in our nation had its roots established here at University of the Sciences, the first college of pharmacy in North America. It is only fitting that a museum celebrating the remarkable and prominent history of pharmacy in the United States and overseas be housed at the University. And that is what occurred in 1995: building on the Pharmacy Museum (that existed in various guises and locations over the past decades), the Marvin Samson Center for the History of Pharmacy was established, and since then we have been showcasing and displaying the plethora of pharmaceutical artifacts assembled by, and donated to, us since the founding of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1821. Our collection of more than 12,000 pharmaceutical and medical objects and artifacts covers over five centuries.

In recreating the feel of a late-19th/early-20th-century pharmacy, the 1,000-square foot Museum captivates visitors through the engaging story it recounts: the importance of pharmacy and the health professions throughout history. In fact, the murals gracing its entrance (along the Griffith Hall corridor) depict the history of pharmacy from Greco-Roman times to the 20th century. Inside the museum, visitors enjoy changing temporary exhibitions based on selections from our collection, which are often enhanced by temporary loans from private individuals and area institutions.

Public recognition of the history of pharmacy and scholarly work in this area still remain in the shadow of the history of medicine. Despite the fact that the American pharmacy profession has had (and continues to have) a profound impact upon health care and industry worldwide, only a handful of formal programs exist in the history of pharmacy. The Center was created partly to address this imbalance, and by promoting awareness and understanding of pharmacy's heritage, the Center hopes to increase interest among laity and scholars, and every level in-between.


Michael J. Brody,
Director and Curator

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