Clendening History of Medicine Museum

The Clendening History of Medicine Museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts illustrating healing and medicine across historical time and through the variety of human cultures. The mission of the museum is to collect, preserve, study, and exhibit materials that advance our knowledge of medicine, encompassing healing practices across the full span of human history. These collections trace their origin to the passionate effort of Dr. Ralph Major, the first chair of the Department of the History and Philosophy of Medicine, who followed the footsteps of the Department's founder, Logan Clendening and who has been succeeded by a series of physician-collectors from Dr. Leroy Calkins to Dr. Tony Kovac and Dr Marc Asher. All have hoped to leave a legacy of historical materials for the appreciation of our visitors.

Among the strengths of the collection are instruments from nineteenth- and twentieth-century American medicine, with a special emphasis on medical practice in Kansas. Materials illustrative of the ancient, medieval and early modern eras include notable collections of Etruscan, Roman, Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Japanese, and pre-Columbian artifacts. Pieces of exceptional artistic value include original paintings and lithographs and Japanese and Chinese woodblock prints and scrolls. Focused collections have been independently developed illustrating American Civil War medicine, the medicine of World War I and World War II, and twentieth-century anesthesiology.

The curators of the museum regularly feature exhibits in the foyer of the Clendening Library drawn from the Museum's extensive collections, as well as collaborative exhibits celebrating the KU Medical Center's Diversity Initiative. Recent exhibits, often developed in partnership with the KUMC Archives, have included: the history of surgery at the KU School of Medicine, Native American culture and healing, the history of anesthesia in Kansas, Civil War medicine, a history of the KU School of Nursing, Chinese medicine, the integration of the KU School of Medicine, and a display of works by disabled artists from the region. The museum also mounts a variety of traveling exhibits that it makes available in other venues.

Last modified: Jul 10, 2013
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Conference on the History of Rural Medicine April 6-7, 2015

We are calling for papers for a day and a half conference on the history of rural medicine to be held at the University of Kansas Medical Center on April 6-7, 2015.

Please send an abstract for a 20 minute talk by January 30 to Chris Crenner in the Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine at If you are unable to send by email please call Ryan Fagan at (913) 588-7040 for further instructions.  We will notify all applicants of acceptance by February 6.

We would like to encourage submissions by early scholars and graduate students.  The Department of Family Medicine at KUMC has made available funding to help defray the costs of travel. If you are an early scholar or graduate student and wish to be considered for travel support, please include a letter of intent addressed to Dr. Mike Kennedy, Dept. of Family Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center and outline very briefly the significance of your project to rural medicine.

The conference will host a series of short papers with discussion as part of a collaborative effort to understand trends and implications in historical research on rural medicine and health.  The conference will conclude on April 7 with a roundtable discussion of the past and future of rural medicine to be held at the headquarters of the American Academy of Family Physicians in Leawood, Kansas and hosted by the Center for the History of Family Medicine  of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, and chaired by Dr. Robert Daugherty, former dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine and past Vice President of Health Sciences and Dean of the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida.

The keynote address will be given by Jennifer Gunn, History of Medicine Endowed Professor and Director, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota, speaking on the development of educational programs in rural medicine.

The conference is a collaborative project of the Program in History of Medicine, University of Minnesota, the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, and the Departments of Family Medicine and History and Philosophy of Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

In honor of Dr. Wilf Arnold, who passed away on November 11, there will be a small celebration of his life Friday, January 30.
The gathering will take place at Diastole, 2501 Holmes St., KC, MO, on the UMKC Campus from 5 - 7 PM.
Remembrances will be shared beginning at 5:30 PM.  

Current Exhibit
"A Triumph of American Medicine: William Gorgas, Ancon Hospital and The Panama Canal"
The exhibit is available Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5 p.m., Clendening Library foyer, 1000 Robinson.
For more information, contact Nancy Hulston at 913-588-7243.
The exhibit is sponsored by the History and Philosophy of Medicine Department, KU Medical Center, and the University of Kansas Endowment Association.