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The Mütter Museum

Listed under Museums in Philadelphia, United States.

  • Photo of The Mütter Museum
  • Photo of The Mütter Museum
  • Photo of The Mütter Museum
  • Photo of The Mütter Museum
Photo of The Mütter Museum
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Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum caters for those whose ‘things to see before I die lists’ are slightly more obtuse than your average four leaf clover. In 1849, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia used their scientific prowess to found a collection brimming with medical anomalies and pathological specimens in the hope that they could instruct people about medicine's past and what it is that makes us human.

Over 20,000 extraordinarily peculiar objects are housed here. Item 1; The Soap Woman. When said lady died, she was preserved as soap, hopefully perfumed. Walk on passed other fluid preserved wonders, skeletal remains and nod in the direction of the freeze dried cat. Amidst the ancient medical instruments and famous scientist memorabilia will stand a plaster cast of the torso belonging to the Siamese twins, Chang and Eng, and their conjoined livers.

Celebrity obsession has not passed Mütter by; ‘The Secret Tumor of Grover Cleveland’ floats in a small jar and that thorax we were all wondering what happened to, belongs to John Wilkes Booth. Wax renderings of eye diseases, iron lungs and the preserved brains of murderers highlight that a certain morbid curiosity is needed. There are over 2,000 objects which have been extracted from people’s throats, not to mention the giant colon. This, everyone, is a lesson in the importance of fibrous substances. Weird and wonderful, The Mütter museum is just as much a medical marvel as its inhabitants.

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Written by  Sybilla Harvey.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Bring some tums

or Dramamine. Either way, this museum is sure to challenge both your stomach and your sensibilities. All of the medical oddities of a past age are on display here, in full glory. Especially interesting is the skull collection, giving visitors a chance to wince when they see what people of a past era managed to stick into their skulls. If this particular museum tickles your fancy, then I would suggest a visit to the National Museum of Health and Medicine in the Walter Reed medical complex. It started as a repository and research center for combat wounds during the American Civil War and maintains a generous collection, including the famous preserved leg of General Daniel Sickles.

3 Replies

Hi Robert - sounds grizzly... But I can't help but be fascinated by that sort of thing... Can you write a review of the National Museum of Health and Medicine for us? I'd be interested in hearing more... Though I might find it hard to read...

I'd love to. It's been awhile since I've been there, but those kinds of experiences tend to stick with you. Is the museum in the site? I can't seem to find it.

If it's not there already that's no problem - in the top right hand corner of this page is an Add an Experience button, so just follow the steps there and it will come though to me and I'll do the rest - if you have any grizzly photos you can add them there as well. Thanks!

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