Pearson Museum

Purpose and Mission

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine ranks as one of the fortunate few medical schools to have a history museum on its campus. Since its official dedication in 1980, the Pearson Museum has been not only a repository for the display of medical and scientific artifacts, but also a classroom for sharing the heritage of healing with faculty, medical students, and the interested public. 

Under the administration of the Department of Medical Humanities, the Pearson Museum collects, preserves, and interprets the history of medicine, health care, nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy from all cultures and eras, but with particular emphasis on the Midwest and the Mississippi River basin. 


In addition to ongoing exhibits and preservation activities, the Pearson offers a variety of lectures, public programs, and award-winning publications. An annual Medical History Lecture Series is sponsored by the Department of Medical Humanities for the Friends of the Pearson Museum. 

Outreach programs and workshops are available to area schools, colleges, and historical associations. The Museum also supports development of the Medical Library's Special Collections--a rich repository of historic medical books. Friends of the Pearson Museum derive satisfaction from supporting some of these important services. 

A medical history museum has been an integral part of the School of Medicine since its inception. Active collecting and temporary exhibits characterized the early years. In January of 1977, the collection moved to its current location at 801 N. Rutledge--permanent space designed specifically for use as a teaching museum. In 1980, the Museum was named in honor of Dr. Emmet F. Pearson, a Springfield physician and student of medical history. His generous contributions in building the nucleus of the collection and his continuing patronage were an invaluable resource to the School of Medicine. 

The Pearson Museum is a member of the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, the American Association of Museums, the Medical Museums Association, the American Association for the History of Medicine, the Association for State and Local History, and the Association of Illinois Historical Museums and Societies. 

For more information about the Pearson Museum, or about Friends of the Pearson Museum, call 217.545.4261:

The Pearson Museum
Department of Medical Humanities
Southern Illinois University 
School of Medicine
P.O. Box 19635
Springfield, IL 62794-9635