Grand Opening of Expanded Pharmacy History Museum

The University of Arizona R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy hosted the grand opening of the Coit Museum of Pharmacy and Health Sciences on October 29, 2022. The museum is a major expansion of the college’s pharmacy museum first established in 1966.

Expansion of the museum was made possible by a $50 million gift from alumnus R. Ken Coit, a portion of which was earmarked for the museum. The gift funded an increase of the museum’s physical footprint and the development of innovative exhibits that present the history of pharmacy and medicines in new and fresh ways.

One new interactive exhibit uses parallax animation technology to generate videos that bring to life the story behind each of the 40 paintings in the famous Parke Davis “Great Moments in Pharmacy” collection. Viewers hear a narration of the painting’s story while visually flying in and around the “living” painting. The Great Moments in Pharmacy exhibit took 10 months to produce and was developed in cooperation with the American Pharmacists Association (which holds the copyright to the paintings). Brief excerpts from this award-winning exhibit can be viewed at this link.

The museum also features the Disneyland Upjohn Pharmacy Collection. This collection is comprised of many of the artifacts from the Upjohn Company apothecary store (circa 1890-1910) that had been part of Disneyland’s Main Street USA from 1955 to 1970.

Another exhibit allows visitors to explore the history of pharmacy and pharmaceuticals on a multi-layered thematic timeline. Yet another exhibit invites young visitors to use touchscreen technology to create their own labels for “snake oil” medicine. The museum also features an old-time drug store with period appropriate displays and pharmaceuticals artifacts.

The new Coit Museum of Pharmacy and Health Sciences ranks as one of the best pharmacy museums in the country. AIHP recently awarded a Certificate of Commendation to Stephen Hall, the museum former director, for his work in leading the expansion of the museum and the development of its new exhibits. The Institute’s citation states that Mr. Hall’s work reflects “an important reimagining of how the history of pharmacy can be presented in ways that attract and engage a broad audience.” AIHP members visiting Tucson are encouraged to visit the museum, which is open Tuesday through Friday.

The University of Arizona R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy has been a contributor to AIHP’s Pharmacy Education Fund since 2008.

Below are photographs from the museum.

A view of artifacts from the Disneyland Upjohn Pharmacy Collection.
Another view of the Disneyland Upjohn Pharmacy Collection.
This “video tree” serves as the hub for the museum’s digital content.
Museum Director Alexis Peregoy, standing before the museum’s vintage drug store exhibit

Posted: November 16, 2022

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AIHP COVID-19 ProjectThe American Institute of the History of Pharmacy is documenting and preserving pharmacy stories and experiences during the COVID-19 global pandemic for the benefit of future historians and scholars. We seek to record the effects of this public health emergency on all types of pharmacy experiences. We invite you to share your pharmacy stories, photos, videos, artifacts, and other documentation of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

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