The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, "La Pharmacie Francaise,” at 514 Chartres Street was constructed in 1823 for Louis Dufilho Jr., the first licensed pharmacist in the U.S. Dufilho studied European medicine in Paris, but it appears he learned much from the African population in New Orleans. The upper floors of the house served as his home, and later, a physician's study. Dufilho cultivated herbs in his courtyard which he used to compound his medicines. Subsequently, the building served as a physician’s office, prior to the opening of the Museum in 1950. It contains the largest pharmaceutical collection in the country, as well as old medical artifacts. The exhibition on epidemics in New Orleans, such as the numerous yellow fever plagues, is fascinating.
The building itself is lined with hand-carved rosewood cabinets made around 1860, cabinets that house apothecary bottles that were filled with leeches, bloodletting devices, pharmacopoeias, and antique prescription files. Also on display are surgical instruments used during the Civil War, nineteenth century cosmetics, and more. Tools of the apothecary, such as a mortar and pestle, are also on exhibit. The very brave can study 200 year-old dental instruments (and we think we have it bad now!).
There is also the Rosenthal Spectacle Collection, which illustrates the historical development of eyeglasses and other antique vision aids from around the world. Not to let you forget where you are, there are some jars with labels (Love Potion No. 9) that are distinctly voodoo-esque in origin. And just in keeping with "American" tradition, there is an old-fashioned soda fountain.
When To Go:
The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., from Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $4.00 for students and senior citizens. For more information go to the museum's website.