Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions
March 22, 2018–August 19, 2018
Pick Your Poison
examines how mind-altering drugs have been used throughout the history of America.
Featuring over forty medicines, advertisements, historic and popular culture documents and books, video footage, and paraphernalia, the exhibition explores why some drugs remain socially acceptable, while others are outlawed because of their toxic, and intoxicating, characteristics.
These classifications have shifted at different times in history because of social and historical factors, and will continue to change. The exhibition explores some of the factors that have shaped the changing definition of some of our most potent drugs––alcohol, tobacco, opium, cocaine, and marijuana––from medical miracle to social menace.
Kinder Stein (Beer Stein for children), c. 1905, Karl Diesinger (German), Earthenware, Gift of Laura Moss, 1936.4.1335
Advertisement claiming more doctors smoked Camel cigarettes than any other, c. 1946, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Museum purchase.
Destroying Whiskey Stills, original 1926 Thompson Brothers Photography Studio, Knoxville, Courtesy of C.M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library.
No-To-Bac Tin, 1880 Sterling Remedy Co., Museum purchase.
Chuspa (Coca Leaf Carrying Bag), c. 1979, Peruvian, Anonymous Lender.
“Help Build a Better America….Get Stoned!” 1969, Robert Crumb (American, b. 1943), from Zap Comix, #0, 2nd print, Anonymous lender.
Pick Your Poison was produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and was curated by Manon S. Parry, Ph.D., 2012. The exhibition is co-curated by Catherine Shteynberg, Assistant Director & Curator, McClung Museum.