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Indiana Medical History Museum

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Title: Indiana Medical History Museum  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Indianapolis, Central State Hospital (Indiana), List of museums in Indiana, List of attractions and events in Indianapolis, Medical History Museum
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Indiana Medical History Museum

Old Pathology Building
Location 3045 West Vermont Street, Indianapolis, Ind. 46222
Area 1 acre (0.40 ha)
Built 1895
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 72000011[1]
Added to NRHP April 25, 1972

The Indiana Medical History Museum is an Indianapolis monument to the beginning of psychiatric medical research. It is located on the grounds of what was formerly Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 25, 1972, as the Old Pathology Building.

It is the United States' oldest surviving pathology laboratory.[2]


Central State Hospital administrator George F. Edenharter, who served in the position from 1893 to 1923, decided a building was required for pathology and hired Adolph Scherrer to be the architect of the project. The building was constructed in 1895 and opened as the Pathological Department of Central State Hospital. When constructed, the two-story brick building was considered "state of the art", with a 100-seat amphitheater for lectures, anatomical museum, autopsy room, library, mental research laboratories, and a photography room.[3]

The Central College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Medical College of Indiana taught neurology and psychiatry from 1900 to 1908 until both were merged with the Indiana University School of Medicine. The Indiana University School of Medicine would continue to lecture in the building until 1956.[3]

Central nervous system syphilis was the most significant subject studied at the building, especially in the 1920s and 1930, because the disease was the specialty of Walter Bruetsch and because the disease was so prevalent in facilities like Central State. Scientific psychiatry was diminishing in the 1930s, and most similar facilities in the United States closed by the 1940s, but Central State's facility was still being used in the 1960s.[3] Most of the buildings of Central State Hospital were in poor condition and were torn down in the 1960s and 1970s. The old pathology building was still in excellent shape, and all its records remained usable because a few doctors used the buildings in a token manner just to state that it was still in use. In 1969, the Indiana Medical History Museum was established, using the old pathology building. Since 1984, the museum has been open to the public at least once a week.[4][3]


The Museum is a not-for-profit organization that collects various relics, with over 15,000 by 1994, all related to medical history rather than just pathological items. A gallery to show rotating themes opened in 1990.[3]

The movie Eight Men Out filmed scenes in the library.[4]

In 2006, the museum received a federal grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources of $44,100 to repair the plumbing within the building.[5]



  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ "Indianapolis: What To Do: Indiana Medical History Museum". Retrieved 2013-12-03. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Bodenhamer, David (1994). The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Indiana University Press. pp. 741, 742. ISBN . 
  4. ^ a b Aamidor, Abe (February 3, 2008). "Medical history (and brains) preserved at museum". Indianapolis Star. 
  5. ^ "Historic Preservation Grants Awarded to 18 Indiana Communities". Inside Indiana Business. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Indiana Medical History Museum - Wishard Scrapbook
  • Old Pathology Building on National Park Service website
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