The Indiana Medical History Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana




The Indiana Medical History Museum is located in Indianapolis, Indiana and was founded by George Ebenharter, as a Pathological Department of the Central State Hospital in 1896. Now called the, "Old Pathology Building'', the building is the site of the Indiana Medical History Museum. The Indiana Medical History Museum is a nonprofit organization and relies solely on donations, admission fees and grants to sustain itself.

The museum has many special programs that are designed to provide visitors with the opportunity to explore medicine and its history. The exhibits are designed to focus on the medicine of the past and educated students, children and adults. There are six special programs that are housed in the museum that bring visitors an in-depth history of the different areas of medicine and its important role in the history of American culture.

Visitors learn about the practice of medicine and the type of education doctors received, and how folk remedies and herbal medicines played a part in frontier medicine. Visitors are also given the chance to view the medical instruments used in the past. The museum is the oldest surviving pathology facility with three clinical labs, an autopsy room, and medical artifacts from the 19th and 20th century.

In the display concerning the Civil War, guests can view actual amputation kits, ether bottles and the topic of amputation is discussed at length. Students come away from the exhibit and program with a complete understanding of the diseases and factors that contributed to deaths in the Civil War. These diseases caused more deaths than any combination of injuries soldiers received.

The Truth about Germs is a program that involves in depth information concerning pathogens and organisms that cause diseases. The information displayed concerns the history of germs and the germ theory, and provides an opportunity to explore researchers, scientists and doctors such as Ignazz Semmelweiss, Joseph Lister, Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur. People learn about the history of antibiotics and how they are used by modern science to combat diseases.

The Milestones in Mental Health display/program discusses the world of mental health and how it has changed over the past 200 years. The information begins with Philippe Pinel and his "moral treatment'' philosophy and delves into the life of Anna Agnew, who was a patient at the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane, from 1878 through 1885. The medications Thorazine and Lithium are discussed in detail, along with the importance they played in the treatment and care of the mentally ill.

After touring the museum, another area of interest is the medicinal garden. The Medicinal Plant Garden at the Indiana Medical History Museum contains was created by the Purdue Master Gardeners of Marion Country. The garden has over 90 different species of medicinal plants, herbs, vines and annuals. Almost half of all the plants found in the garden are Native American medicinal plants, while others come from Europe, Africa and Asia. Visitors to the garden will learn about the history surrounding the plants and the important role they play in medicinal treatment and prescriptions.

The museum is open Thursday through Saturday, and Wednesday by appointment only for groups of 10 or more people. The Indiana Medical History Museum is closed on major holidays and the museum does not accept credit or debit cards. The museum is dedicated to the preservation of medical artifacts and medical history of the past and to educate the community in the areas of medical care, science and health careers in Indiana, during the 20th century.


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Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 14, 2011 @ 10:10 am
The founder of the building was Dr. Edenharter, not Ebenharter. Hours: Thurs-Sat 10-4, tours given every half hour, with the last tour starting at 3pm. Group tours may be scheduled in advance for Wednesdays. The programs listed need to be set up in advance. The Civil War Medicine exhibit is temporary and will eventually be replaced by another display on a topic relevant to 19th and early 20th century medicine.

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