In October of 2007, Pfizer Inc. gifted to the American Pharmacists Association Foundation, Great Moments in Pharmacy, a collection of 40 paintings depicting a comprehensive history of pharmacy by artist Robert Thom (1915-1979).
The idea for the paintings was conceived by Pharmacist George A. Bender (1904-1985) when he served as editor of the North Western Druggist from 1929 through 1932 and the ultimate commission of the series was funded by Parke-Davis. The paintings remained the property of Parke-Davis until 2000, when Pfizer became the owner after it merged with Parke-Davis. The paintings were completed in the early 1950s by the Michigan-born and Columbus, Ohio, Institute of Fine Arts graduate Robert A. Thom (1915-1979). Both Bender and Thom, as well as a number of pharmacy historians formed a project team that painstakingly researched and developed the story lines for the project over a ten-year period.
The first 16 paintings in the Great Moments in Pharmacy series pay tribute to the accomplishments of the apothecaries and their predecessors in Babylon, China, Egypt, Persia, and Europe. The remaining 24 paintings are devoted to pharmacy in the Americas, especially in the English colonies and the United States, including coverage of the history of the American Pharmacists Association.
The paintings have been displayed at the Smithsonian Institution where they were viewed by over 300,000 visitors. Other museums that have exhibited the paintings include the Denver Institute of Arts, New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Oriental Institute of Chicago, and the Hotel des Invalides in Paris.
APhA is privileged to display the collection in the Art Gallery of its Headquarters Building. The gallery is located in the original headquarters building designed by renowned architect, John Russell Pope, whose work includes the National Archives, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Tate Gallery Rotunda in London.
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