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Visit the Pharmacy Museum



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In this issue of the ultimate insider’s guide to West Virginia University, School of Pharmacy professors talk about their favorite exhibits and oddities in the Cook-Hayman Pharmacy Museum, now in a renovated home in the Health Sciences Center. The museum, founded in 1962, is made from fixtures and supplies collected from West Virginia drugstores dating back to the 1800s.


Bottles in the WVU pharmacy museum.

L-R: Vapo Cresolene elebric vaporizer, quinine sulphate, pickled leech, red devil skull poison bottle indicator, bleeding instruments, show globe, medicated cigarettes.

Douglas Slain


Associate Professor

HIS PICKS:Red Devil Skull Poison Bottle Indicator
Old Quinine Bottles

As a specialist in infectious diseases, I'm drawn to old quinine bottles. The medication, a chemical isolated from cinchona tree bark, is one of the most important in history because of its ability to treat malaria, once endemic in the U.S. Getting quality quinine in the U.S. was difficult at times, and it was even smuggled past Union lines into the Confederate states in hollowed-out girl's dolls.

Charles Ponte


Medicated Cigarettes 
Electric Vapo Cresolene

Electric vaporizers replaced a similar device that used a kerosene lamp to heat a smelly black liquid, cresolene, which came from coal tar. The vapors were inhaled to treat respiratory ailments such as the common cold and bronchitis. Cresolene is a poison and was also used as an antiseptic. Modern-day warm/cool mist vaporizers have taken its place and certainly smell better!

Mary Euler

Professor and Associate Dean of Student Services

Show Globes

Show globes have been a symbol of pharmacy since the 17th century. To attract attention and to symbolize the mystery and art of their profession, chemists, and later apothecaries, displayed show globes with solutions of colored chemicals.

Clarke Ridgeway

Professor Emeritus

Bleeding Instruments
Pickled Leech

Bleeding, or ‘opening a vein,’ by various methods was long recognized as a means of removing disease from the body. A variety of instruments were created to make the process as precise and efficient as possible. These devices made shallow cuts in the skin or longitudinal slits in a vein to allow for removal of the offending agent believed to be traveling in the blood. Treatment ended when the wound clotted or the patient fainted, whichever came first.