Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices

The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, now closed, contained over 250 items. Some of these are now on display at the Minnesota Science Museum in St. Paul.

Here are three devices from the collection.

The Battle Creek Vibratory Chair:


This is from around 1900, and was created at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, directed by Dr. John Kellogg, of Corn Flakes fame. It was designed to stimulate intestinal peristalsis, and cure back pain and headaches. it looks about as comfortable as an electric chair.

The Radium Ore Revigitator:


From 1925, the idea behind this was many health problems stemmed from "denatured' water lacking an essential ingredient : radioactivity! A little radium was the ingredient needed to keep you healthy. Um, not exactly.

Here is another painful looking device, the Prostate Gland Warmer, "designed to stimulate the abdominal brain".


Here is Bob McCoy, curator of the museum, on Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1998)

Many more videos can be found at the museum's You Tube channel.



  1. I've seen a couple devices like this in antique stores, but they were pretty expensive.

  2. All I can say is "eeeeeeeeek" lol !
    Neat stuff there Bob , thanks !!!

  3. Awesome, Bob! The vibratory chair could be fun especially with a nice bowl of corn flakes!

  4. Indeed:). I'm going to do a post soon - maybe next - on Dr. Brinkley and his "monkey gland" treatments - combining medical quackery with country, blues, and border radio.

  5. Lindsay Rosenwald http://www.nytimes.com/1988/12/14/business/business-people-dh-blair-picks-doctor-as-director-of-finance.html Rosenwald, 33, specializes in finding and underwriting promising medical and biotechnology companies

  6. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT475.
    The image can be seen at wahooart.com who can supply you with a canvas print of it.

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