Most local hospitals aren't known for their amazing art displays, but Phoenix Baptist Hospital has a museum collection worthy of being ogled for hours.
The Medical Museum at Phoenix Baptist consists of several glass display cases in the lobby on every floor, filled with hundreds of relics from medical history such as vintage glass drug jars, wooden opium scales, "ear trumpets," and "pap boats."
All of the items are on loan from Dr. Robert Kravetz, a retired gastroenterologist who worked at Phoenix Baptist and gained a reputation as a medical historian. In addition to his extensive private collection of medical items from throughout the decades, Kravetz has also helped curate and contribute to exhibits at the Maricopa Medical Society, the Heard Museum, and the now-closed Phoenix Museum of History.
The Medical Museum exhibit at Phoenix Baptist starts in the lobby by the main entrance. Displays include labels on the instruments and sometimes placards discussing a particular branch of medicine. For example, there are a few shelves dedicated to gastoenterology (Kravetz's specialty). They include antique enemas from the 1800s, suppository molds, and a typed page explaining the "origins of the enema."
Glass jars line the shelves in the "Herbal Medicine" section, filled with everything from nutmeg to anise to senna. There's a shelf dedicated to the display and history of early patent drugs, and a scary looking machine labeled "Electro-Magnetic Machine 1885: used for various ailments."
But the electro machine wasn't as scary-looking as the vintage metal catheters, or as confusing as the old pack of cigarettes labeled for asthma treatment. That was just the beginning of the "quack" medicine and pseudoscience section. There was also a ceramic head labeled for phrenology, the now-debunked theory that, in simple terms, the size of someone's skull somehow determined their intelligence.
The mentioned ear trumpets were fist-sized brass instruments (shaped like trumpets) that people held to their ears as early hearing aids. And though they may sound gynelogical, "pap boats" are actually dishes (shaped like gravy boats) that were used to feed handicapped or incapacitated patients.
Plenty more medical lore is on display throughout the hospital, including a section on leeching. With stuff like this in the lobby, who needs to read last month's Redbook in the waiting room?
The Medical Museum is located at Phoenix Baptist Hospital, 2000 W. Bethany Home Road. Call 602-246-5319 or visit azcama.com for more information.
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