Chad Orzel has a post up on the two halves of physics, and about how people tend to forget one of them: the experimentalists. I think he's right, and the problem is the glamorous coating that began to stick to theoretical physics in the early 20th century (and has never completely flaked away).
Several things led to that split: the startling predictions of relativity and quantum mechanics, borne out by experimentalists right down to the most unlikely-sounding results, for one. The Manhattan Project, which was a triumph of engineering, but was seen, I'd say, by many in the general public as sheer theory somehow made real. The personal fame of people like Einstein, and the fame of later practitioners like Feynman and Hawking. All of this made experimental physicists seem either like 19th-century relics, or (more often) made them confused in the public's mind with theorists from the very beginning. (The only post-1900 physicist that I can think of who was both a great theorist and a great experimentalist was Enrico Fermi). Update - qualified that to take care of off-the-charts figures like Isaac Newton.
Chemistry, on the other hand, has always been an experimental science in the public mind. Say "chemist", and people think of someone in a lab coat, in a lab, surrounded by chemicals. "Theoretical chemistry" is not a phrase with any popular currency, as opposed to "theoretical physics". Even many chemists tend to think of someone who spends all their time on theory as being close to a physicist, or even a mathematician.
Some of the practitioners don't do much to clarify matters. Witness the great Lars Onsager, who really was a chemist (and won the 1968 Nobel for it). But his PhD dissertation, which had to be whipped up when Yale discovered he didn't have a doctorate, was (disconcertingly) on Mathieu functions, and Yale's math department said that they'd be glad to grant him the degree if the chemists had any problem with it. Very few people are competent to read all of Onsager's Collected Works.
I agree with Orzel, though, that experiment is the beating pulse of any scientific field. That's the worry that some people have had about physics in recent years, that it's strayed into areas where experiments cannot help. Chemistry will, I think, never have that problem. But we've got others.