Quacks Exposed

When the Southern California Medical Museum in Riverside, California holds its annual open house on Sunday, April 27 the topic will be “Medical Quackery.” Speakers Hans Davidson, M.D. and Stan Korfmacher, M.D. will tell about the pills, potions, plasters and poisons that have been deceptively presented as cures for medical problems.

Well-known fan Elliot Weinstein, M.D., is co-curator of this museum. He is also a long-time collector of devices used by quacks who promised relief from all kinds of ailments.

Other displays in the Museum house medical artifacts, historical photographs, medical books dating back to 1843, and a life-sized diorama recreating a typical 1900-1920 era examination room.

The Museum’s centerpiece exhibit is always something of special interest, like co-curator Davidson’s attention-grabbing “bleeding and sucking exhibit” which told why bleeding was considered the basis of medicine even as late as the mid-1800’s. The medicinal properties of the leech were also admired(!)

I attended the Museum’s Lewis and Clarke themed open house in 2003 and learned a lot, including a wonderful non-medical tidbit — William Clark spelled mosquito 26 different ways in his journal but never once got it right. A page devoted to the 2003 open house includes a beautiful photo of Elst and Carole Weinstein in their best 19th Century outfits.

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