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Museum of Questionable Medical Devices

Posted November 19, 2020 @ 6:36pm | by Doug

~~~ Tour Guide Notes ~~~

In 1987, I was hired by a restauranteur from Omaha to drive her around the Cities visiting restaurants.  We stopped at Riverplace where she invited me to join her on a walk-about. 

Along the corridor, we came upon a W.C. Fields look-alike sitting aside an odd contraption resembling a beauty shop hair dryer, though vastly more complex.  “It’s a phrenology machine,” he told us.  “By measuring the bumps on your head, it determines 35 aspects of your personality type.”  We decided to give it a go.

The man was the now-legendary Bob McCoy (1927-2010), founder of the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices. 

At the time, he was on the verge of expanding the museum to display a multitude of quackery gadgets which he had been collecting over many years, including bloodletting devices, a Vibratory Chair, Foot Operated Breast Enlarger, Radium Ore Revigator, and many more such magnets for gullible wallets.

We received printouts from Bob’s device, then sat down over coffee to compare what we learned about each other’s personality. Although we realized it was bogus, still, the exercise was so engaging that we ended up being friends long afterward, rendering a greater value to his clever endeavor.

When Bob McCoy retired in 2002, he donated his collection to the Science Museum of Minnesota where today it remains on display for your enjoyment…phrenology machine included.

[Doug Rosenquist is a retired Twin Cities tour guide.]


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