ABOUT THE MUSEUM

Much like the pharmacy field itself, the Coit Museum (formerly known as the History of Pharmacy Museum) came from humble beginnings. Its foundation in 1966 was thanks to the work of one man, Jesse Hurlbut. A pharmacist and hobby historian, Mr. Hurlbut collected pharmacy artifacts for decades. When he retired, he donated his collection to the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy to establish the History of Arizona Pharmacy Museum. (“Arizona” was eventually dropped from the name.)

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Jesse Hurlbut

Pharmacist and museum founder Jesse Hurlbut.

Mr. Hurlbut served as the museum’s founding curator, but he passed away shortly after it opened. Though the museum remained largely a one-person operation thereafter, the scope of its collection continued to grow. What had begun as a single, small exhibit in the College of Pharmacy quickly blossomed into one of the world’s leading collections of pharmaceutical artifacts.

For the first 55 years of its existence, the History of Pharmacy Museum had a highly unusual layout. Exhibits were spread throughout the public spaces of the College of Pharmacy, in hallways, lobbies, etc. Then, in 2021, an all-new museum space opened as part of a major expansion to the College of Pharmacy’s Skaggs building. Funded by alumnus R. Ken Coit, this new space became the museum’s first-ever centralized home, and the museum was renamed The Coit Museum of Pharmacy & Health Sciences in 2021.

Today the museum exists in two parts: the “old” museum and the “new” museum. The early exhibits remain in place within the College of Pharmacy—many are built into the facility’s structure and cannot easily be moved. Collectively, these two parts of the museum tell a story that parallels that of the pharmacy profession. Growth and change happen gradually; new-age developments build on what has come before; the past informs the present and future.

Welcome to the Coit Museum of Pharmacy & Health Sciences.

MUSEUM HISTORY

1930s-1960s – In his day-to-day work as a pharmacist and later State Board Inspector, Jesse Hurlbut assembles an impressive collection of pharmaceutical antiques.

1947 – The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy is established. Classes are held in the Old Chemistry building of the University, and labs take place in surplus Army tents.

1966 – The College of Pharmacy moves into the newly-built Pharmacy/Microbiology building, its first permanent facility. In conjunction with this move, the museum is founded when Jesse Hurlbut, now retired, donates his collection to the college. He becomes the museum’s first curator.

1970 – Noted historian George Bender retires from Parke, Davis & Co., moves to Tucson, and joins the faculty of the college. He begins teaching a class in pharmacy history and becomes the museum’s second curator.

1982 – The college and museum move from the Pharmacy/Microbiology building to the new Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center. Alumnus Richard Wiedhopf becomes the third curator of the museum. Under his direction, the collection grows immensely.

2000 – The class of 2000 sponsors the Willis R. Brewer Room in the Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center. This immersive replica of an old-time drugstore becomes the centerpiece of the museum.

2006 – The College of Pharmacy expands into the newly-built Drachman Hall.

2007 – The museum receives the collection from the Upjohn Pharmacy in Disneyland, its most prestigious acquisition to date.

2014 – Stephen Hall becomes the museum’s first assistant curator. He and Richard Wiedhopf create an exhibit to display the Upjohn Pharmacy collection.

2016 – Rick Schnellmann becomes the seventh dean of the College of Pharmacy. Under his direction, an all-new wing of the Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center is constructed, which includes a 2,100 square foot space for the museum.

2017 – Richard Wiedhopf retires from the College of Pharmacy and Stephen Hall becomes the museum’s curator.

2018 – Alumnus R. Ken Coit announces a major investment in the College of Pharmacy, part of which will fund an all-new museum space.

2020 – Work is completed on a new wing of the Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center, part of which includes a new space for the museum.

2021 – Installation begins on the newly-renamed Coit Museum of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. In conjunction with Homecoming, a “soft opening” takes place.

2022 – As part of the College of Pharmacy’s 75th anniversary, and in conjunction with the unveiling of a bronze statue of R. Ken Coit, the museum has a public grand opening. Alexis Peregoy is hired as the museum's director.