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Minnepolis Science Museum
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What the Human Mind Has Devised to Cure Itself

Unfortunately these contraptions were also often dangerous to the public that was tricked into using them. A depilatory machine removed unwanted hair with x-rays and ultimately caused cancer in the thousands of women who paid for the treatment. Another apparatus, used in shoe stores, allowed you to see your feet in your new shoes with an x-ray machine. How else could you tell if the shoes fit? The machine was declared unsafe by the FDA in 1970.

The museum's roots lie in a modern-day "phrenology parlor" started by Bob McCoy in the early 80s. Bob and his friend acquired a dozen or so phrenology machines and opened up shop in a waterfront mall in downtown Minneapolis. Demonstrating the machinery for a few bucks a pop, word soon spread about McCoy and his vintage devices.

McCoy continued to acquire additional pieces from garage sales and other collectors, and the exhibit now also holds exhibits on loan from The American Medical Association, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The St. Louis Science Center, The Bakken Library, and The National Council Against Health Fraud. When McCoy retired, he donated his collection of more than 325 exhibits to the Science Museum of Minnesota.

The museum is currently the world's largest display of "what the human mind has devised to cure itself without the benefit of either scientific method or common sense."

Know Before You Go

The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices is now located at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Content originally created for Atlas Obscura.