GH Sperber School of Dentistry Museum officially unveiled

    The special centennial display is located on the second floor of the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA South).

    September 20, 2017

    As a part of the school’s centennial celebrations, the G.H. Sperber School of Dentistry Museum was officially unveiled, Sept. 20. Located on the second floor of the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (south), the display pays tribute to 100 years of dentistry in Alberta.

    “I am very honoured and shocked,” says professor emeritus Geoffrey Sperber, as the museum is being names after him. “I had no idea this was in the works.”

    Sperber has tirelessly worked to promote the importance of having a dentistry museum. Since dentistry moved out of the old Dent/Pharm Building, where the museum existed for over forty years, the school had been looking for a place to showcase its history.

    In 2015, the school did secure space in the basement of the Clinical Sciences Building, however public access was limited.  This space has already become the talking point for many people passing by thanks in large part to Dr. Loren Kline who was instrumental in helping this space and is also the curator today.

    “The school is pleased to acknowledge individuals like Dr. Sperber. His passion for the museum and our centennial were the drivers for what you see here today,” says Paul Major, chair of the School of Dentistry. “Over the years, Dr. Sperber and his wife, Robyn, have donated graciously to our school to support our research and innovation activities. For his relentless pursuit of our museum, we name this display after him.”

    The dent/pharm building museum was under the successive curatorship of late Drs. Stewart and Collinson, and then Dr. Sperber. To pay special tribute to the founder of the dental school Dr. Harry Bulyea, Dr. Ivano Ongaro has created a master art piece of Bulyea to display as well.

    Dent/pharm museum artifacts

    The museum was constituted of three collections; paleoanthropology, comparative odontology and historical dental artifacts. The paleoanthropology section contained a collection of hominid fossil casts and rare fossilized bones depicting early human evolution. The comparative odontology section contained a range of irreplaceable rare animal skulls, including piranhas, a duck-billed platypus, a lion, a bear, a walrus, and beaver and chimpanzee skeletons. The teeth of dinosaurs, mammoths and elephant molars, including a pair of magnificent ivory tusks were a pride of the collection, as was a narwhal skull complete with its twisted five-foot-long tusk. This piece was donated to the Anthropology Department so it could be used for teaching.

    The collection also was composed of dental chairs from the 1880s to the 1930s, early dental x-ray machines and a range of antique dental cabinets. The collection of early dentures carved in ivory from 1815, through vulcanite dentures of the 1920s and the first acrylic based dentures of the 1940s was incomparable. Early dental instruments with ivory handles, gold foil hammers and treadle dental drills recalled the roots of dentistry. The portable dental kits of itinerant dentists of the 19th century contained a range of extraction forceps and elevators. The first local anesthetics and obtundent (pain relieving) drugs prepared and dispensed by dentists were also a feature of the collection.