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National Museum of Health and Science

Listed under Museums in Virginia, United States.

  • Photo of National Museum of Health and Science
  • Photo of National Museum of Health and Science
Photo of National Museum of Health and Science
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Once a gory collection of Civil war casualties, injuries, and ailments, the National Museum of Health and Science has become quite a bit more, broadening it's attraction beyond teenagers and sadists. Prominent items from the original inventory of Civil war wounds are on permanent display as you enter (be sure to sneak a glance at General Sickles preserved leg) as is a display of military medicine from the civil war all the way up to Vietnam. Also showing are oddities from the world of science, including a giant hairball from the stomach of a 12 year-old girl, kidney stones, and live leeches. For those less ghoulish, there is an exhibit tracing the development of the modern microscope.

Other showings include relics from Abraham Lincoln's death, a history of medicine in the Korean War, and a recreation of a combat hospital in Iraq. Be sure to visit the section researching the effect of toxic metals on human beings (with human heads!), and a room containing all manner of medical paraphernalia, including an Iron Lung and a two-ton MRI magnet. The museum also runs temporary exhibits. If past exhibitions are any indication, these are just as interesting as the more permanent collections.

While this is a wonderfully interesting collection (the easily nauseous be warned), the close proximity to the giant Walter Reed medical center lends a disquieting air. One can only imagine the medical horrors of the present, having just seen those of the past. Still, it's great fun. Bring some kids, they'll love it.

One important caveat to those planning on visiting in the future: With the planned closure of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the NMHS is set to be moved to the Army's Forest Glen Annex in Montgomery County, Maryland in 2011.

National Museum of Health and Science Website.

Written by  Robert Evans.

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