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Mütter Museum :: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

March 10, 2010 by  
Category: Attractions

When most people think of going to a museum, they typically have visions of grand paintings, ancient Egyptian artifacts, or perhaps a celebrity wax figure or two. Rarely do they imagine encountering a preserved nine foot long two foot in diameter human colon, a mysterious deceased woman composed of adipocere, and the skeleton of two children born with separate bodies, but one head. No, you will find these unique and somewhat disturbing oddities nowhere else but at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1859 by Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter via his donated collection of medical curiosities to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia; it was originally intended to function as a medical research facility. It got its first permanent home at Locust and 13th Street nearly five years later with close to 1800 one of a kind specimens, skeletons, models, and illustrations. It has since moved to a more befitting and auspicious location between Chestnut and Market on 22nd Street and houses a collection of over 20,000 amazing, wonderful, interesting, and grotesque items that delight and intrigue some 60,000 visitors a year.

As a museum dedicated to medical oddities and advances, you can expect to see some rather amazing things. Mütter’s archive of medical instruments is truly a sight to behold. It’s actually rather startling to see the progression over time of objects once considered to be the height of technology that now appear simply barbaric. There is also an impressive display of conjoined fetuses exploring the myriad ways in which human development can go bizarrely awry. Speaking of conjoined, the museum is the final resting place of the liver that Chang and Eng Bunker (the famous Siamese twins) once shared. There is also a plaster cast made of them showing exactly the small point that kept them together. Check out Mütter’s rather thorough selection of items swallowed and inhaled by patients from dentures, to shells, coins, bones, buttons, and everything you could imagine in between. The wax renderings of various disease symptoms (think tumors, syphilis, eye disease, etc.) can definitely be disconcerting however uniquely educational.

Mütter Museum does not permit photography inside due to the delicate nature of their collection; however their gift shop is more than adequate to fulfill your memorial needs. They are open 7 days a week from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and admission charges range between $10 and $14. An experience you will be talking about for the rest of your life, the Mütter Museum will pique your curiosity, catch your breath, and leave you questioning your own mortality.

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