The Mobile area has many sites for tourists to visit. The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center and IMAX Theater, the USS Alabama Battleship, the beautiful flowers of Bellingrath Gardens, dipping your toes in the warm Gulf waters off Dauphin Island, celebrating Mardi Gras at the Mobile Carnival Museum. There’s one other attraction in Mobile that may not immediately catch your attention, but you should not miss: the Mobile Medical Museum.
Dr. Samuel Eichold II of Mobile founded the museum in 1962 from a modest collection of 100 medical artifacts, books and documents from the 18th and 19th centuries collected by Patricia Heustis Paterson, daughter of Mobile physician James Heustis (1828-1891). Thus began the museum’s mission, to preserve and exhibit medical artifacts that commemorate Mobile’s importance in the evolution of medical education and public health in Alabama and along the Gulf Coast.
It wasn’t long before the museum began to grow, as did the collections, which showcase the early days and advances in nursing, radiology, infectious diseases, pharmacology and more. Eventually, the museum outgrew its locations and moved, more than once.
As the collections continued to grow, space became more and more precious. Displays include an iron lung from the 1930s, an antique wheelchair, Civil War medical tools and two life-sized papier-mache anatomical models that belonged to Dr. Josiah Nott, who used them to demonstrate the autonomic nervous system and the lymphatic system.
Mobile surgeon Dr. Charles Rodning is president of the Mobile Medical Museum and has been affiliated with the organization for 40 years.
“Since my family and I located to Mobile, I interacted with the founder, Dr. Eichold, in part because of my education as a physician and part because I have a keen interest in medical history,” Rodning said. “A substantial component of my scholarly endeavor has been in relationship to medical history, particularly in relationship to how it relates to this community and to this region.”
It has been his love of history, and this organization, that produced a special exhibition space, the Mary Elizabeth and Charles Bernard Rodning Gallery, at the museum. “Very proud to have a gallery here that will bear the Rodning family name. The Rodning family is most appreciative and most grateful and humble for that honor,” Rodning said.