Worthman Museum renamed

Sign at entry introducing Drs. Worthman and Johnson. Part of the museum displays are viewable in the background.

Named in honor and memory of Dr. Robert Worthman in October 1982, and later, Paul Johnson in 2021, the Worthman-Johnson Veterinary Anatomy Teaching Museum on the WSU Pullman campus harbors several hundred animal specimens. The specimens, prepared and preserved by Worthman or Johnson, have allowed for significant contributions to veterinary medical education.

Dr. Robert Worthman

Dr. Robert Worthman joined the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine faculty first in 1946 and a second time in 1953 after earning his Master of Science degree from Iowa State University.

The anatomy museum was a longtime dream of Worthman’s. Located in McCoy Hall, the museum’s sole purpose is to instruct WSU professional and graduate veterinary students and provide a better understanding of the anatomical structures in healthy and diseased animals.

Worthman’s crowning glory remains the pioneering methodology he developed for preparing the lyophilized animal specimens, a practice he went on to teach Johnson.

While the museum’s opening date is unknown, Worthman is believed to have opened it in the 1950s. Worthman maintained the museum and prepared many of its animal specimens from when it opened until he retired in 1982 with the title of Professor Emeritus.

Worthman was passionate about teaching and veterinary medicine. He was the recipient of the Norden Distinguished Teacher Award in 1964. In 1981 he received the American Association of Veterinary Anatomists Award for Professional Excellence.

Paul (PJ) Johnson

As instructional supervisor in the Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology and Physiology (now the Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience department), Johnson spent 36 years overseeing the Worthman Anatomy Teaching Museum and creating animal specimens. From 1974 until 2010, he also helped incoming veterinary students navigate the rigors of anatomy class.

Before retiring in 1982, Worthman taught Johnson all he knew about preparing lyophilized specimens.

Johnson quickly learned the ropes and went on to develop many innovative techniques for preserving and displaying anatomy specimens. He also set up a summer anatomy lab work crew staffed with veterinary students. They began calling Johnson “PJ” and the name stuck.

The quality of Johnson’s work was world-renowned, as his work is also prominently displayed in the Middle East. In 1997, Johnson prepared a horse skeleton and helped install it at the Dubai Equine Hospital for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. In 2014, Johnson came out of retirement to help prepare a camel skeleton for the Emir of Qatar.