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THE MUTTER MUSEUM March 30, 2010

Posted by lycan librarian in Books and reading.
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     One of the best birthday presents the Lycan Librarian ever received was a trip to The College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum. Upon entering the museum, one is first facing very mild displays dedicated to bacteria, viruses, modern antibiotics and other means of prevention and control. While attempting to externally express deep interest in the tame (although terrifying if you think about it) exhibit,  panic sets in internally as doubts begin to surface. Am I at the wrong place? 

     But as the corridor of bacteria ends, one turns a corner and a short walk away, there you are! Standing on the upper gallery of pure fascination. Looking down, the eye is immediately drawn to the lower gallery’s 7′ 6″ skeleton of a giant standing next to that of a 3’6″ dwarf. The heart leaps, and time stands still as the long-awaited adventure begins. But where to start? To name a few, skin diseases, skulls and bones ravaged by venereal diseases, over 2,000 items neatly catalogued that have been retrieved from human stomachs, and the world’s largest colon all vie for one’s attention and concentration.  There are also celebrity displays to enjoy: a plaster cast of their bodies and the actual conjoined liver of Chan and Eng who are the world’s Original Siamese Twins, Grover Cleveland’s jawbone and secret tumor, the thorax of John Wilkes Booth, and the famous and very mysterious Soap Lady.  

     If you can’t venture to Philadelphia to witness these breathtaking displays in person, you can purchase one of the museums lavishly illustrated books. Additionally, calendars are available, so each month can begin with a crisp and unique photograph and informative text to whet the appetite for the diverse and to set the mind racing.

     Founded in 1787 and named for Dr. Thomas Mutter, this museum was originally a teaching museum for those wading into the medical profession (which somewhat explains some of the more politically incorrect original exhibition labels, such as the brains of madmen and epileptics and the skulls of gypsies, idiots and lunatics.) Now the numerous curiosities astound and fascinate not only those with a medical background, but all of us who care to see them; those of us who can then only marvel at what stupendous and wonderous things are these bodies in which we reside. It also causes one to give pause, and hearty thanks for being born with everything assembled properly.

     If you are unable to steal away to see these incredible sights, you can take a virtual tour at www.collphyphil.org    If, however, you have the means and opportunity to indulge in a visit to Philadelphia and this fabulous museum, then go! Go! Go!

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