The Southern California Medical Museum (SCMM) will bring its unique collection of medical, dental and pharmacy artifacts, historical pictures, photographs and rare books to Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif.
"It’s important that we study our past, which provides a lot of direction for our future," said WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD. "Going through the history of medicine in general, and specifically osteopathic medicine, there are many stories and examples of courage, innovation and compassion that serve as inspiration for us."
The SCMM will be housed in WesternU’s Nursing Science Center. WesternU is providing the space to house the museum. The San Bernardino County Medical Society’s Historical Committee will provide docents and curators, and will cover funding and general operating costs.
The SCMM was founded in 1983 in Colton, and was in the San Bernardino County Medical Society building in Riverside for about 10 years. The Society recently moved to Redlands, but its new building was not a good fit for exhibiting the museum’s collections, said SCMM Director Bert (Hans) Davidson, MD, PhD, who is also a WesternU clinical professor.
"There so many more advantages. We will have a better, bigger, dedicated space," Davidson said. "We are closer to the metropolitan area, have the support of a university, and we are next to public transportation."
The Southern California Medical Museum interprets and preserves medical, pharmaceutical and dental artifacts and publications. Through its exhibits, publications and programs, the museum stimulates, informs, and educates the general public, medical professionals, and students concerning the history of health care, with emphasis on Southern California and the West, according to the museum’s website.
SCMM is the only museum in Southern California dedicated to the collection and preservation of medical artifacts and the recording of the history of medicine in the Inland Empire, California and the West. The museum and historical committee came about as the result of more than a decade of work by Merlin Hendrickson, MD, and others. Dr. Hendrickson was a major donor financially, as well as in museum items, and his tremendous influence is still seen in the collection today. The SCMM is supported by donations and funds through the Physicians Memorial Gift and Benevolence Fund, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization, according to its website.
The museum had been confined to a conference room and hallway in its previous location. Its home at WesternU will provide adequate storage and greater flexibility to rotate displays and exhibit larger items, Davidson said. The Nursing Science Center is along a major thoroughfare – Garey Avenue – and the museum will have signage on the building.
The SCMM is expected to begin moving into its new home in the fall, but it will take several months before it is ready to open to the public, Davidson said.
"It’s an opportunity to do everything right," he said.
Davidson and SCMM Curator Elliot Weinstein, MD, have been friends of WesternU and Dr. Pumerantz for many years. The SCMM has loaned WesternU’s Harriet K. and Philip Pumerantz Library several items for various exhibits, including Civil War-era items for the "Life and Limb: The Toll of the American Civil War" exhibit that ran April 8-May 18, 2013. The contribution of the SCMM is still on view at the library as "Medicine in the Civil War."
"It’s an exciting opportunity for us, both for them to get more publicity about their extensive collection and for us to be tied to a museum that shares the history of medicine," said Pumerantz Library Executive Director Pat Vader, MLIS. "It’s important for students to know the history of their chosen profession. By being so close in proximity, those who are interested can certainly participate and learn more about that."