The Museum of Medical History at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month and is offering free tours to the public on Thursday, May 17. The Museum offers a rare and interesting look at the evolution of medicine and medical equipment over the last three hundred years. It houses antique and obsolete medical instruments and equipment along with memorabilia and various items used by local hospitals and local physicians during the past 100 years.

“The Museum of Medical History is a window to our scientific past,” says Pete Delgado, President/CEO of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System. “Every item tells a story; the Iron Lung, Mabel, a real life skeleton, and a surgery table that once belong to John Steinbeck’s family physician. It’s an impressive collection.”

The Museum located below the parking structure at Salinas Valley Memorial houses several stations featuring historical objects such as Civil War era field amputation and surgery kits. Visitors can also take a look at pathology slides stained with tissue samples from people who were inflected with ailments such as malaria and arsenic poisoning. There are also 18th century medicine jars and a spring-loaded scalpel. The Museum of Medical History is the brainchild of June Dunbar, MD, the first female Chief of Staff at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital.

“One day I noticed that someone had thrown away medical tools and that got me thinking how great it would be to preserve these medical tools and share them with the public,” says June Dunbar, MD. “I started collecting medical items. At one point I had boxes full of medical items in my garage for the purpose of one day having them exhibit in a museum.”

That vision did come to life in 1998. Every year approximately 600 local students tour the Museum of Medical History at SVMHS. Guided tours for schoolchildren are led by SVMH Service League volunteer docents. The museum is located in the lower level of the Sam Downing Resource Center on East Romie Lane. It is also identified as the lower level of the parking structure. Free and self-guided tours available to the public Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Free valet parking is available in the parking structure on Wilgart Way.

The Museum of Medical History will be celebrating its 20th anniversary on May 17th and will be offering tours to the public from 10am to 1pm that day.