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7 unusual medical museums

By: Matt Hickman on Oct. 14, 2011, 9 a.m.
x-ray shoe fitting device

Photo: A.M. Kuchling/Flickr

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Museum of Questionable Medical Devices

Location: St. Paul, Minn.
Specialty: Vintage medical quack devices

Gift shop grotesquerie: The museum’s gift shop is no longer in operation, but perhaps there are still foot-powered breast enlargement pumps floating around out there …

Once a freestanding museum located in Minneapolis, the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices — also known as “The Quackery Hall of Fame” — was shuttered in 2002 when its curator, the late, great Bob McCoy, gave his last psychograph reading and retired. Fortunately, much of McCoy’s collection of “medical chicanery and mayhem” was handed over to the Science Museum of Minnesota, where numerous fraudulent gizmos and gadgets are on display including a vibratory chair, a shoe-fitting X-ray device, weight loss soap and a prostate gland warmer promising to “stimulate the abdominal brain” that looks like a probe with a light bulb attached to a 9-foot cord. Can’t make it to Minnesota to take in “the world's largest display of what the human mind has devised to cure itself without the benefit of either scientific method or common sense”? Get your hands on a used copy of McCoy’s 2002 book: “Quack! Tales of Medical Fraud from the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices.”