Sometime before his death in 1859, Philadelphia physician Thomas Mütter donated $30,000 and his 1,700-item personal museum of bones, plaster casts, medical illustrations and other pathological artifacts to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, which was used to create the first incarnation of the museum in 1863.
The College has continued to add to the collection ever since, now boasting more than 20,000 items of interest in the medical field.
The Museum displays tens of thousands of provocative items.
The Mütter Museum serves as a riveting storehouse for the anatomically peculiar. The Museum’s display of tens of thousands of provocative items gives an eerie, beneath-the-surface perspective of what physicians study on a daily basis.
Inside the museum, a wide smattering of abnormal body parts remain preserved in fluid.
Visitors encounter skeletal formations — like that of a 7’6” man — that don’t seem quite physically possible. Tastefully displayed diseased and enlarged organs reside within glass-encased oak frames.
Visitors are intrigued by The Mütter Museum's collection of all things anatomically peculiar.
— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia
Medical oddities of all kinds captivate visitors, but highlights include Marie Curie’s electrometer, Dr. Benjamin Rush’s medicine chest, slides of cells from Albert Einstein’s brain, and, most spectacularly, the death cast of Chang and Eng, the original “Siamese Twins,” whose autopsy was performed in the museum.
Be sure to check out the infamous “Soap Lady,” whose body was exhumed in Philadelphia in 1875, and a special 139-piece collection of human skulls.
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