8th & 9th Stops: Upjohn Collection

The lobby of the third floor of Drachman Hall holds the spectacular Upjohn collection. The items in the seven-panel, custom-built case came from Disneyland in Anaheim, California. In the 1940s and 1950s, Walt Disney became close friends with Donald S. Gilmore, the CEO of the Upjohn Company, a pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributor based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Both Disney and Gilmore had winter homes in California.)

As their friendship grew, Disney invited Gilmore to bring the Upjohn Pharmacy to Main Street, USA in the soon-to-open Disneyland Park. Walt Disney had childhood memories of his local pharmacy, and he wanted to celebrate and preserve the old-time feel of classic retail pharmacies. Originally, a Disney architect designed the building, but Gilmore disapproved, saying it was not an accurate representation of a classic pharmacy. Renowned architect Will Burtin redesigned the building to capture this feeling. The Upjohn Pharmacy remained at Disneyland from 1955, when the park opened, until 1970. It was replaced by the New Century Clock and Watch Shop, which closed in 2008. Today, the Fortuosity Shop occupies this space, but there remains a hanging sign on Main Street that advertises “Rx Drugs” in honor of the Upjohn Pharmacy.

The three central sections of this exhibit are a recreation of the Upjohn Pharmacy’s back-counter display. One of the most notable items in this case is a beautiful Wedgwood bust of Hippocrates, the so-called father of western medicine and creator of the Hippocratic Oath. One of the jewels of the museum’s collection, this bust (circa 1800) is from the personal collection of Dr. Upjohn himself. Directly below this bust is an enormous balance with a marble base, circa 1840. Also displayed are four large, reverse-painted vessels, two giant Majolica olive oil vats and the enormous Upjohn clock.

The ninth and final stop on the Pharmacy Museum tour is on the second floor of Drachman Hall and features an assortment of exhibits. Created under the direction of George A. Bender, former vice president of Parke, Davis & Co. and former curator of the History of Pharmacy Museum, the first exhibit details a chronological progression of significant people and moments in the history of pharmacy. Representing pre-history to the present day, these images provide a visual record of an ever-developing field. These prints were generously donated by College of Pharmacy alumnus Milton Greer, Class of 1952.

The next display is a preparation counter, another piece from the Huffman Pharmacy in Chicago. Note the custom stained-glass window. This case contains more porcelain and glass apothecary ware, including the lovely set of ridged, green-tinted bottles.

In the large cabinet immediately to the right is an eclectic assortment of instruments, tools and materials. Some important pieces in this display include the balance of early Arizona pharmacist Jesse Hurlbut, a tincture press (used for making pills) and the striking hand-engraved show globes. Many of these items also come from the Upjohn Disneyland collection, including the six Tiffany lamps hanging above.


Originally posted: August 21, 2013
Last updated: July 11, 2016
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