7th Stop: Natural products display

The seventh stop on the Pharmacy Museum tour is the natural products display. This 102-drawer cabinet is filled with natural plant and mineral products, along with vintage medicinal bottles and fascinating details about how natural products were used.

Believed to have originated in a 1950s apothecary shop in Denver, the cabinet eventually made its way to Tucson where an avid collector used it to store dollhouse miniatures. In 1990, Tucsonan Dave Fisher acquired the cabinet and began searching for someone who would maintain the massive piece and put it to good use. After years of fighting pack rats that thought the structure would make an excellent condominium, Fisher generously donated the cabinet to the History of Pharmacy Museum. Representative of an era in pharmacy when medications were kept out of sight, the cabinet was adapted to reveal pharmaceutical secrets that once were hidden. 

College of Pharmacy graduate Frank Ernst (Class of 2000) donated hundreds of hours to create the natural products display. Under the tutelage of Dick Wiedhopf, curator of the museum, Ernst meticulously brought the cabinet’s history back to life.

The large copper and brass instrument near the cabinet is a Lloyd continuous extraction apparatus. It was used from the 1940s to the 1970s to extract chemical components from plant materials and to distill volatile oils, perfumes, and essences from natural materials. At one time it was an officially registered still.

Originally posted: August 21, 2013
Last updated: December 15, 2014
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