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Herbal Explorations

Expanding Horizons: Exploring TCM Museums Across the Globe

We are all feeling the effects of the economy and travel may not be the first thing on our minds. However, with the summer months come patients on vacation and the urge to take a break ourselves. There is a multitude of travel deals to distant and near lands to be found, so why not combine a bit of education about your craft with a pleasurable vacation? Keep in mind these museums of Chinese Medicine all over the world.

Hangzhou, China
Hu Qing Yu Tang Museum of TCM

A trip to Mainland China would not be complete for a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine without a visit to the Hu Qing Yu Tang Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Hangzhou. This 4000-plus square meter building is divided into five different parts and is a showcase of antique architecture. Learn more about the history of Chinese medicine in the exhibition hall, which houses numerous artifacts and descriptions, as well as anecdotal stories of historically famous Chinese doctors such as Bian Que, Lishizhen and Hua Tuo. Watch pills being shaped and herbs being cut by masters, or give it a shot yourself. Sometimes even doctors need checkups, and what better place to have one than in the health clinic with a famous Chinese doctor. Buy your prescription and pick up some patents in the pharmaceutical factory. Satiate that appetite you have most likely worked up by enjoying a medicinal meal. 95 Dajing Lane, Hangzhou, China.

Shanghai, China
Museum of Medical History

At the prestigious Shanghai College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the alma mater of our founder Dr. Bing Yin Lee, the Museum of Medical History holds a plethora of ancient treasures. With over 10,000 precious relics, including a Neolithic stone acupuncture needle (Banshi), a Ming Dynasty herbal medicine gourd, and a Qing Dynasty bronze figure for learning acupuncture, this museum will take visitors back in time and through the evolution of traditional Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. 1200 Cailun Road, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, Pudong New District, Shanghai.

Beijing, China
Yushengtang TCM Museum

Another place you will find numerous historical pieces is at the Yushengtang TCM Museum. Originally the Bai clan’s herbal medicine shop, the Emperor Qianlong changed the name to Yushengtang in reverence to the medical skills and ethics of Bai Linyun of the clan. His descendants founded the museum ten years ago as a place to exhibit over 3,000 artifacts and medical texts. No. 69, Fengtai South Road, Sihe Manor, Beijing, China.

Hong Kong
The Garden, Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences

If your travels take you to Hong Kong, take the opportunity to see Chinese herbs in their live state at the Herbal Garden of the Hong Kong Museum of Sciences. Planned in collaboration with herbal, botanical and medical professionals, the garden provides an educational experience to anyone desiring to learn about the characteristics and nature of herbal medicine. Inevitably, you will learn something here to share with your patients as you look at the plants in their original. No. 2 Caine Lane, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong.

Stops Along the Way to China
Japan, South Africa, & Los Angeles

The Institute of Natural Medicine at the University of Toyama maintains a Museum of Materia Medica that houses crude drug samples of both botanical and animal origins. In addition to Chinese medicines, the museum also showcases Japanese, Taiwanese, African, Vietnamese, Tibetan and Ayurvedic folk medicines. Sugitani Campus; 2630 Sugitani, Toyama-shi, Toyama 930-0194, Japan.

Johannesburg is home to the Adler Museum of Medicine, located on the medical school campus of Wits University. Although the museum mostly tells the story of the evolution of modern medicine, it also pays homage to holistic treatments, including acupuncture and Chinese medicine. University of Witwatersrand Medical School, 7 York Road, Parktown, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Originally a trading post constructed in 1876, the Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum showcases the lives of the Chinese community of John Day, Oregon. Lung On and Ing Hay, two Chinese immigrants from Guangdong, established this apothecary and store that quickly became a mainstay of the community, supporting them religiously, socially, and medically. Recently rediscovered and turned into a State Heritage Site and Park and a National Historic Landmark, the museum holds Chinese herbs, medicines and old artifacts to give the visitor a sense of what it was like when it was open. John Day, Oregon. Call 800-551-6949.

Many of us might find a trip to the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles a bit easier to make this year. One of the museum’s on-going exhibits is the Sun Wing Wo General Store and Herb Shop, a recreation of a store opened in 1891 that served the Chinese community in Los Angeles for almost sixty years. Across from the general goods section of the gallery is the herb store recreated. Make every effort to visit the museum on the Second Wednesday of every month to speak with Albert Lew, who worked for his uncles and cousin in the herb store as a young boy. Mr. Lew will recount firsthand how essential this store was to the Chinese community during these years of persecution. 425 N. Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

If life, work or the economy has you rooted to your home this summer, be sure to browse the website of the Beijing Digital Museum of TCM, a veritable wealth of information and education.

If you have the opportunity to visit any of these places, please give us a report!