Only a handful of museums in North America are dedicated to veterinary medical history, and Missouri is fortunate to have this educational and entertaining institution. Though small in appearance, every turn of a corner steers visitors to new comprehensive displays that are a breed apart.
Beginning with a review of old European practices, James Herriot enthusiasts will hear the theme to All Creatures Great and Small in their heads as the exhibits turn to the development of country veterinary practices, particularly in Missouri. Veterinarian L.D. LeGear’s horse dental instruments on display are a bit fascinating as are his patent medicines, and Paul Paquin’s journals as the first state vet are available for perusal.
The walls, meanwhile, are studded with illustrations and medical tools from birthing hooks to anesthetic tubing. A deceptively named “balling gun” demonstrates a method used to dispense medication to large animals, and antique trocars will elicit gasps over ruminal tympany (bloating). Interspersed, curators have thoughtfully provided fun facts including that the largest litter of piglets ever recorded was 37, which makes one wonder how the nearby preserved Siamese piglets would be counted.
Military veterinarians have pride of place in the museum, as it recognizes their indispensable and heroic contributions. Next to a flag bearing the green cross of the veterinary service are stories and instruments reminding readers of the crucial role played by animals, ranging from horses to pigeons, in waging and winning wars.
Missouri native Mark Twain once waxed poetic about a magic hairball in Huckleberry Finn, and around another corner in the museum, visitors can experience some supernatural looking hairballs along with sundry furbelows extracted by dedicated Missouri vets. A ginormous bladder stone removed from a horse will cause every visitor to wither.
The museum caters to every age and level of interest, so it is no surprise that people flock to this museum.
Know Before You Go
The museum hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.