One of the more unique museums in New Orleans is the Pharmacy Museum, also known as La Pharmacie Francaise. Housed in one of the city’s historic Creole townhouses, this interesting museum – one of the city’s more reasonably priced attractions – offers visitors a look at a 19th century apothecary shop.
Built in 1823 as the private residence and place of business of Louis Dufilho, Jr., the first licensed pharmacist in the U.S, the property was later inhabited by Dr. Joseph Dupas, who established his medical practice on the second floor and continued to operate the pharmacy on the ground floor.
Following a succession of owners in later years, the building was renovated and, in 1950, put into use as a museum. The collection of curiosities it contains is said to be one of the largest, most diverse of its kind in the U.S.
Today, the building’s ground floor, with its original Belgian slate flooring, houses the museum’s apothecary shop. Exhibited here, on floor to ceiling shelves lining the walls and in display cases along the counter, are the tools and ingredients of the pharmacist’s trade.
Vintage glass bottles, medicinal jars, tubes, and vials hold herbs and botanicals, tonics, elixirs,
disinfectants, salves, ointments,
You’ll also see an array of implements, such as the mortar and pestle,
hypodermic needles, and syringes; items used for compounding, weighing, packaging, and dispensing medication.
There are also gold and silver coated pills (for the elite patient),
a ceramic dispenser for mixing medicinal Coca-Cola syrup,
and an old-fashioned Italian marble soda fountain (once a common fixture in a pharmacy).
The stairs out back lead to the second floor where the various rooms house exhibits pertaining to epidemics, such as cholera and yellow fever;
Patented medicines; Medicinal liquors, for which patients needed a doctor’s prescription during the Prohibition Era;
And in the Sick Room, there are 19th century home healthcare and midwifery instruments and supplies.
In these rooms, you’ll also see:
Pharmaceutical cabinets, such as an 18th century piece made of cypress and a set of decoratively carved cabinets with drawers for storing botanicals;