History of Medicine
Smithsonian Institution Building dates from the early 1850s.
The world's largest museum complex, the Smithsonian Institution houses an impressive medical sciences collection. It dates from 1876, when about 600 crude drug specimens, displayed at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, were deposited in the U.S. National Museum. Since then it has grown into one of the largest collections of medical objects in the world, encompassing almost all fields of medicine and health care.
The medical sciences collection is a part of the National Museum of American History (14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW). Administered by the Division of Science, Medicine, and Society, the diverse collection includes patent medicines, drug-manufacturing apparatus and containers, biologicals, alternative medicines, laboratory equipment, eyeglasses, prosthetics and artificial organs, surgical instruments, dental equipment, microscopes, radiology and other body imaging devices, diagnostic instruments, quack medical devices, veterinary medicines, uniforms, public health materials, and biotechnology instrumentation. These are supplemented by trade catalogues, posters, advertising literature, business records, and audiovisual and manuscript materials. The Museum is scheduled to close to the public for a major renovation in September 2006 and reopen by summer 2008.
Some of the earliest fauna and flora specimens at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW) date from the 1850s. Federally sponsored expeditions such as the United States Mexican Boundary Survey (1848-1855), Pacific Railroad Survey (1853-1855), and Northwest Boundary Survey (1857-1861) had physician-naturalists accompanying the surveying teams. These expeditions produced large collections of animals and plants which were deposited at the Smithsonian. Many physician-naturalists, including Caleb B.R. Kennerly, James G.Cooper, George Suckley, Adolphus L. Heermann, and John S. Newberry, contributed to early collection building at the Smithsonian.
See: #8 on Downtown Map.
Nearest Metro Stations: 'Federal Triangle' or 'Smithsonian' on Blue and Orange Lines.