Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry receives designation

Dec. 18, 2003
Congress designates the Harris site as the nation's official dental museum.

The Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry (NMD) has received congressional designation as the nation's official dental museum. The official designation is the result of a resolution introduced by Representative Elijah Cummings and Senator Paul Sarbanes. The resolution was signed by President George W. Bush on November 12, 2003.

The museum, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is located on the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). Over 10,000 visitors from across the nation visit this interactive, educational and entertaining museum annually.

"This resolution designating NMD the official museum of the dental profession fulfills a vision of our founding benefactors and supporters," says Rosemary Fetter, the museum's executive director. "With recognition as the only health museum in the Smithsonian Affiliations program and the designation as the official museum of dentistry in the United States, we have truly reached a lofty goal that will bring a greater public awareness of the national importance of our work," she says.

"The NMD is an important asset to the University, helping us to achieve cultural and educational goals," says David J. Ramsay, DM, DPhil, president of UMB. "The campus has watched the museum grow over seven years from being solely a repository of dental history to become an interactive educational center promoting oral health, both onsite and off."

"The museum will continue to expand and develop programs and exhibitions that demonstrate to the public and especially to children the importance of oral health. Its mission is to provide oral health education in a fun and entertaining way and to preserve the history of our great profession," says Jack Gottschalk, DDS, NMD Founding Benefactor and Board of Visitors Chair Emeritus.

The museum has created traveling exhibits to reach national audiences. Currently, Branches, Bristles and Batteries: Toothbrushes Through Time is touring several cities and teaches families about the evolution of the toothbrush and how to achieve good oral health. This exhibit will reach approximately 2 million visitors during a national three-year tour of children's and science museums.

New exhibits keep the museum alive and help to highlight important dental issues and celebrate the great heritage of dentistry. Currently, The Future is Now! African Americans in Dentistry pays tribute to the movers and shakers who paved the way for African Americans' success as dental professionals through dramatic portraits, moving memoirs and inspirational stories. The Future is Now! African Americans in Dentistry will become the museum's second traveling exhibit beginning a national tour in Fall 2004.

The museum offers educational programming, such as MouthPower, enabling young people to make informed choices about their oral health that have a positive effect on their overall health. Using the museum's unique resources, MouthPower participants understand the meaning of good oral health and become aware of the role oral health plays in overall health, learn the benefits of good nutrition and the harmful effects of tobacco and other substances on oral health and become aware of career options in dentistry. Through a partnership with the American Dental Association, the program will be available nationally through the Internet and resource kits for dental professionals to use in their community.