Rochester Medical Museum & Archives
Founded in a small room of the Rochester General Hospital in 1947, the Rochester Medical Museum & Archives is now located on the second floor of the Rochester Academy of Medicine building, where it has operated since 2014. It offers a number of permanent exhibits as well as traveling exhibits and items on loan from other museums and various educational institutions. The permanent collection consists of items from twenty medical and research facilities in the area. Visitors can also view temporary thematic exhibits featuring photographs, artwork, and historical vignettes. The heart of the museum is its research library, which is home to the archives of Rochester General Hospital and many other medical institutions throughout New York.
Backstory and Context
One of the first several medical societies in the city at the time, the Rochester Academy of Medicine was founded on June 26, 1899 with its first meeting between 23 doctors from the Rochester area. As it grew over the early 1900's, members held meetings at various different spots until a building on Prince Street was acquired in 1923. A much larger residence on East Avenue- built in 1908 and formerly owned by Rochester philanthropists Carolyn and Edmund Lyons- was donated to the Rochester Academy of Medicine in 1939.
Years later in 1947, an early version of the Rochester Medical Museum & Archives was established in a cramped room in the Rochester General Hospital. Initially, the collection consisted simply of boxes full of medical records, photographs, documents, and letters from the hospitals of the Rochester General Health System- some dating back to 1847. When its collection began outgrowing
the space, the Archives were moved to the former Stromberg-Carlson factory building on Humboldt Street.
In April of 2014, the Rochester Academy of Medicine then invited the Museum & Archives to set up permanent residence at their building location on East Street- an offer which the Museum accepted. Today, the Rochester Medical Museum & Archives are located on the 5,000 square-foot second floor of the Rochester Academy of Medicine building. Museum exhibits tell 1,000 years of medical and health-related history in the Rochester region with a variety of interactive activities, temporary exhibitions, and artifact displays. Most of the museum's oral histories and archival documents- all collected from roughly twenty former and current medical institutions in Rochester- are housed in a building previously used as a library by the Academy of Medicine.
Rochester Regional Health. Rochester Academy of Medicine Welcomes Archives Dedicated to Local Health Care History, Rochester Regional Health. April 13th 2014. Accessed November 20th 2020. https://www.rochesterregional.org/news/2014/04/rochester-academy-of-medicine-welcomes-archives-dedicated-to-local-health-care-history.
Rochester Regional Health. Rochester Medical Museum & Archives, Rochester Regional Health. Accessed November 20th 2020. https://www.rochesterregional.org/about/history/rochester-medical-museum-and-archives.
University of Rochester Medical Center. Rochester Academy of Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center. Accessed November 20th 2020. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/libraries/miner/rare-books-and-manuscripts/archives-and-manuscripts/record-groups/rochester-academy-of-medicine.aspx.
Walwrath, Mary. Keepers of Monroe's medical mysteries, (585) Magazine. December 26th 2018. Accessed November 20th 2020. https://www.585mag.com/keepers-of-monroes-medical-mysteries/.