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Marvin Samson Center for the History of Pharmacy

The development of pharmacy in our great nation had its roots established right here at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, 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 it has been showcasing and displaying the plethora of pharmaceutical artifacts donated to us since the founding of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1821. Its collection of more than 10,000 pharmaceutical and medical objects and artifacts covers over five centuries. A visit to the Center is a true learning experience for even the most knowledgeable pharmacy history buff.

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 throughout history. In fact, the murals gracing its entrance depict the history of pharmacy from Greco-Roman times to the 20th century. Inside the museum, visitors are treated visually and artistically to changing temporary exhibitions that include selections from our vast collection of memorabilia, photographs and artifacts.

Public recognition of the history of pharmacy and scholarly work in this area still remain in the shadow of the history of medicine. In the United States today, over 100 academic historians are working in nearly 30 programs in the history of medicine, and in spite of 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 aspires to increase interest among laity and scholars, and every level in-between.


Michael J. Brody,
Director and Curator

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