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Collections and Exhibitions - Marvin Samson Center for the History of Pharmacy

Permanent Collection

  • Ceramic & Glass Apothecary Jars & Containers
  • Mortars & Pestles
  • Show Globes
  • Medicinals, Botanicals, Patent & Homeopathic Medicines
  • Laboratory Glassware
  • Tools, Instruments, & Equipment for Drug Preparation
  • Pharmacy Display Cases
  • Advertising Items
  • Documents & Pharmaceutical Ephemera
  • Nursing & Orthopedic Equipment
  • University of the Sciences Teaching Materials & Commemoratives
  • Books
  • Prints
  • Paintings, Sculpture & Other Fine Art
  • Matthews’s “History of Pharmacy” Murals
  • Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Artifacts & Archives


Ongoing Exhibitions:

Historical material from the University's collections is currently on display in the following campus buildings:

McNeil Science & Technology Center (Atrium)
“Artifacts and Devices for Understanding the Sciences, c. 1850 - c. 1950”

J.W. England Library (Main Floor)
“Grinding Stone to Art Object: A selection of historical mortars and pestles from USciences’ collections”

Other Campus Locations
Several hundred pharmacy-related objects are viewable in ‘open storage’ (glass cases) on the second floor of Griffith Hall (wall cases adjacent to the main stairwells). Additional objects are on display in the entrance foyers of Woodland Hall and the McNeil Graduate Study & Research Center.

Past Exhibitions:

“New Acquisitions”
June 24, 2016 thru December 21, 2017

This exhibition was dedicated largely to objects added to the collections 2009-16 (acquired through donation or purchase) and to objects and other historical material that were never, or only rarely, on view since the Museum opened in 1995.

“Wyeth: A History Through Artifacts”
February 20, 2014 thru March 4, 2016

This exhibition celebrates the legacy of John Wyeth (1834-1907), a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, who in 1860 co-founded a drugstore with research laboratory that eventually grew to become the multinational pharmaceutical corporation, Wyeth. The over 300 objects on display (manuscripts, ledgers, letters, ephemera, advertisements, prints, photographs, books, periodicals, devices, and drug bottles, containers, and packaging) document distinct moments in Wyeth’s complex 150-year history. These items are part of the large archive that Wyeth gifted to USciences in 2009.
More Information (pdf)

“Botanicals to Braque: Five Centuries of the Illustrated Book”
(March 22, 2012 thru May 31, 2013)
More information (pdf)

"Secundum Artem:
Selected works of art and design from the University collections"
(November 11, 2009 thru May 27, 2011)
More Information (pdf)

"Frederick Gutekunst and the Art of Photography"
(29 April 2008 - 29 September 2008)
A retrospective exhibition of the work of Frederick Gutekunst (PCP Class of 1853), a Philadelphia photographer of international fame, active c. 1856 to c. 1915.
More Information (pdf)

"Circa 1821: Design and Material Culture in the Young Republic"
(20 July 2006 - 28 September 2007)
More Information | web, pdf

"Human/Humane: The BioArt of Frank H. Netter, M.D."
(22 April - 21 July 2005)
More Information | web, pdf

"Grinding Stone to Art Object: The Mortar and Pestle from the Renaissance to the Present "
(9 December 2004 - 2 December 2005)
The venue for this private exhibition was Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Collegeville, PA.
More Information (pdf)

“Eclectic Road to Health”
(Ended 14 March 2005)
In October 2001, University of the Sciences unveiled “Eclectic Road to Health,” an exhibition that focused on the fascinating world of complementary and alternative medicine. Through text and objects this exhibition examined the historical and cultural contexts of alternative therapeutics and the evolution of complementary treatments. In addition to historical items from the Museum, there were loan materials from the following collections:

  • The Leopold E. Helfand Archives, USP, Philadelphia PA
  • The Historical Collections and Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia
  • The Library Company of Philadelphia
  • The Archives of MCP-Hahnemann, Philadelphia PA
  • The Still National Osteopathic Museum, Kirksville MO
  • Palmer Foundation for Chiropractic History, Davenport IA
  • Lloyd Library and Museum, Cincinnati OH
  • The Atwater Kent Museum, Philadelphia PA

Included in the exhibition were sections on:

  • Historical perspectives of Integrative medicine and the use of "botanical drugs," including herbal specimens, advertisements, and products
  • Alternative movements developed in the 19th century such as Thomsonian Botanics, hydropathy, naturopathy, eclecticism, chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, and physical culture.
  • Traditional systems of medicine such as Chinese, Ayurvedic, and folk medicine
  • Food therapeutics, including nutraceuticals, "super" foods and supplementation

“From Panacea to Science: 175 Years of Pharmacy in Philadelphia”
(Ended Spring 2001)
The exhibition exemplified the importance of the USP's role in the formation of pharmacy as a profession. The exhibition contained artifacts and documents relating to the University's long history of influence on the field of pharmacy; the founding of Philadelphia College of Pharmacy.

It included:

  • a timeline, "Behind and Over the Counter", of pharmaceutical development from 1821 (the date of Philadelphia College of Pharmacy's inception) to the present
  • famous alumni of the University such as Eli Lilly, Josiah K. Lilly, Gerald F. Rorer, William R. Warner, Robert McNeil, John Wyeth, Silas M. Burroughs, and Sire Henry S. Wellcome, who have vastly contributed to the evolution of American pharmacy.
  • the development and changes affecting education in the health sciences
  • the influence and development of pharmaceutical related industries in Philadelphia
  • patent medicine.