The mission of The Health Museum is to foster wonder and curiosity about health, medical science and the human body.
The Health Museum is a nonprofit science museum that was created in response to the polio epidemic that spread throughout the US in the 1940s and 1950s. With donations from the Victory Over Polio vaccination campaign and funds from local organizations, a series of permanent health exhibits were created to fulfill quality health information and education.
On November 16, 1969, the museum came to life as the “Museum of Medical Science” inside the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Over the next 21 years, museum patrons enjoyed exhibits and outreach programs, helping fulfill the need for quality health information and education. Building a separate institution dedicated to health education had been a dream of the museum’s founders for many years.
Following a successful $9.5 million capital campaign, the magnificent John P. McGovern Building was built in the heart of Houston’s Museum District.
The Health Museum officially moved out of the gallery space in the Houston Museum of Natural Science and
into the permanent building on 1515 Hermann Drive, in March 1996. The original exhibit and main attraction was the Amazing Body Pavilion, which is still part of the museum’s exhibits today.
In late 2001, the museum’s Board of Trustees recognized the unparalleled contribution of Dr. John P. McGovern to the museum’s success. Upon the trustees’ unanimous vote, the museum was renamed the John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science.
On January 27, 2007, the museum opened the Sue Trammell Whitfield Gallery, a 6,000-square-foot space where traveling exhibits from around the country are displayed.
In May 2011, the museum completed an expansion that included the addition of learning centers and an expanded museum Grand Hall, transforming both the physical and experiential footprint of the museum for educational and institutional audiences.
On March 27, 2015, The Health Museum opened the DeBakey Cell Lab, its first permanent exhibit in five years. The DeBakey Cell Lab is a unique science-focused experience and the only bilingual science lab museum exhibit in the country. Honorably named after the respected and accomplished medical pioneer, Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., this 2,000 sq. ft. exhibit features seven authentic biology-based science experiments developed for visitors from ages 7 to adult.
In November 2019, The John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science celebrated 50 years in our community. The museum continues to address the social determinants of health through exhibitions, programs, events, and membership.
About Dr. John P. McGovern
Dr. John P. McGovern was widely celebrated as a physician, educator, author, medical historian, philanthropist and humanitarian.
In late 2001, the John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science was dedicated in his honor to recognize the unparalleled contributions of Dr. McGovern to the Museum’s success.
Dr. McGovern’s contributions have allowed The Health Museum to educate and entertain hundreds of thousands of children and families by providing innovative exhibits and interactive programs on health and medical science.