The Medicine's Hall of Fame & Museum's Doors Have Closed, Leaving 4,000 Rare Artifacts Ready for a New Home

The museum's permanent closure comes after pandemic-related funding shortfalls

Medicine's Hall of Fame & Museum

Though the Medicine's Hall of Fame & Museum in Shawnee, Kansas, opened for public tours in early 2020, its origins began much earlier. Physician Dr. Bruce Hodges spent a lifetime collecting nearly 5,000 medical artifacts from around the world to display them in a museum to bring light to the history of medicine. After years of preparing the museum's exhibits, just before it was set to open, COVID-19 pandemic restrictions limited the museum's ability to fully open. Low attendance numbers created financial challenges that ultimately led to its closure. Now, the collections, which include rare antique medical equipment, Native American and African tribal medicinal practice artifacts, early apothecary items and other unique instruments of medicine, will be sold at a Mayo & Auction Realty online auction in November.

Dr. Hodges and his son Robin carefully curated the displays and exhibits that tell the storied past of medicine as practiced by cultures around the world. "In the 1970s, I decided to open a medical museum," says Dr. Hodges. As a practicing physician and a missionary in Uganda, he traveled to many African countries collecting the artifacts. "I always intended to put the items in a museum," he adds.

The museum has sold the building and will sell the artifacts and museum fixtures in an online auction. Notable items include a rare pediatric iron lung from the 1940s used to treat the polio virus; a Chippewa wood and rawhide medicine drum; a Nigerian Yoruba tribe chieftain sash circa 1880; a late 1800s Kratzer Carriage Company horse-drawn doctor's buggy; George Washington Presidential Peace medals from 1789-95; rare apothecary bottles and jars; and a Columbian antique dental chair in which Dr. Louis Gebhardt was beaten to death by a patient on Nov. 1, 1904.

One of his most memorable acquisitions for Dr. Hodges is a doctor's saddle bag originating from the 1880s. "I had a patient call me and tell me she saw a newspaper advertisement for an estate auction that had medical items for sale, and she thought I'd be interested in them," says Dr. Hodges. "So I drove more than 60 miles to the auction only to find that there was just one medical item in the sale, and it would be selling as the last item. After having waited all day at the auction, I was determined to be the winning bidder on the doctor's saddle bag." What makes the saddle bag so special is the nearly complete set of corked topped medicine vials and bottles contained inside.

The sheer quantity and variety of unique and rare artifacts is difficult to describe. Fortunately, the over 4,000 artifacts will be displayed and offered to the public in multiple online auction catalogs ending the same week in early November. 

The online auction, conducted by Mayo Auction & Realty of Belton, Missouri, will provide the opportunity for other collectors and museums to purchase these unique items. "We are honored to work with Dr. Hodges and the Medicine's Hall of Fame & Museum. Throughout our process, we are dedicated to honoring the history of the artifacts and focused on finding enthusiastic and dedicated caretakers for every item in the museum," says Robert Mayo, chief executive officer and auctioneer at Mayo Auction & Realty.

Photos and descriptions of the items will be posted in multiple online catalogs and bidders can place bids from anywhere on their mobile devices, tablets or computers. In-person previews will be on Friday, Nov. 4, from 2-6 p.m. at 6305 Lackman Road, Shawnee, Kansas. Online bidding ends Monday, Nov. 7. 

Visit to view all items, photos, descriptions and to bid.

Mayo Auction & Realty is a leading online auction provider in Kansas and Missouri and has more than 20 years of experience in real estate auction services, business asset liquidations, estate liquidations, equipment and vehicle auctions and appraisal services.

Source: Mayo Auction & Realty

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