Melnick Medical Museum reopens on campus

iron lung
A large yellow Emerson Iron Lung from 1952 is the most iconic artifact in YSU's Rose Melnick Medical Museum, which reopens this week in a new location in Cushwa Hall on campus.

The Rose Melnick Medical Museum ​celebrates its official reopening Wednesday, Sept. 28, in its new home in Cushwa Hall on the campus of Youngstown State University. 

“I am excited to be able to share this museum with the public again,” said Cassie Nespor, museum curator. 

“It was Dr. Melnick’s dream to cultivate an interest in medicine and promote medical history. With the new location in the center of campus, I am looking forward to using the museum’s collection to reach new audiences and form new partnerships.” 

An opening reception is planned for Sept. 28 at 5 p.m. in the new Cushwa Hall location in Room B241. After that, the museum is open to the public Tuesdays through Fridays from 1p.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. Admission is free.

The reception also features the opening of a new exhibit called “Class, Housing and Health in Youngstown,” researched and written by Becky Jasinski, a YSU graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts degree in American Studies.  

The new museum offers recreations of medical and dental offices ranging from the years 1890 to 1930. It also includes special exhibits about early radiology, the history of polio and the Sabin vaccine in Youngstown. The most iconic artifact is the large yellow Emerson Iron Lung from 1952. This respirator was used widely during the U.S. polio epidemics in the 1940s and 1950s. Nespor said the new space also includes a floor-to-ceiling photo mural of a patient in an Iron Lung, as well as an iron lung replica that “allows visitors to experience the Iron Lung in a unique way.”  

The Melnick Medical Museum, under the operations of the YSU Maag Library, first opened in October 2001 in Melnick Hall on Wick Avenue. The founder, Dr. John C. Melnick, was a radiologist at Youngstown Hospital Association and named the museum in honor of his mother, Rose Melnick. The museum was temporarily closed in 2013 for extensive building renovations. At that time, YSU and the Melnick family agreed that the mission of the museum would be better served by relocating the museum to a more central location in the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services. 

Exhibit areas were created throughout Cushwa Hall to display collection artifacts and highlight student research projects. Nespor also did exhibits and events with community partners like the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, the Sutliff Museum, Mill Creek Park, OH WOW, and the Youngstown Historical Center for Industry and Labor. ​The Melnick Museum also created suitcase tours for schools and organizations in the region, increasing the exposure of the museum and its educational goals. During this transition, the Museum provided more than 280 programs, events and presentations.