This Museum In Philadelphia Is Not For The Squeamish

on November 20, 2013

Interior of the Mütter Museum

If you like to check out unusual venues in your travels while going off the beaten path, you may want to check out this strange museum in Philadelphia. It’s not for the faint of heart, with exhibits ranging from odd to downright disturbing. But definitely interesting!

Still curious? Visit is the Mütter Museum in Philly (19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia PA): Described as a museum of “medical oddities,” it’s a favorite with those seriously interested in medical science and history (since it’s also one of the oldest collections in the country), but can also be fascinating for those of us with an interest in the unique (and perhaps with a strong stomach).

One of the first things you see when you walk in is a collection of human skulls. Upon a closer look, you’ll find that they come from all around the world. Other exhibits include a 40-pound human colon, the mummified remains of a woman – known as the Soap Lady – whose body turned, well, essentially into soap (apparently a rare but not unheard of process involving an abundant amount of fat and high humidity) after her death in the early to mid 1800’s.

There is a special display called the “Grimms’ Anatomy: Magic and Medicine 1818-2012″. It shows real-life oddities that might have been the gruesome inspiration for some fairytale characters (there was a girl whose hair would mat into a long “tail” – similar to Rapunzel).

The bottom floor (the museum itself is fairly small and only has two floors) houses even stranger contents, like tumors, gangrened extremities, and jars with unborn, defective fetuses.

Some of the displays are replicas, but a good number are the real thing. The often come with long explanations using medical jargon – but for the most part, you can get the gist of it.

The museum started with a donation by Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter in 1858 to The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Despite the creepiness the average layperson may feel, this place was originally meant for serious research.

Definitely a unique experience though – one of a kind!

  • Enjoy with: Friends who enjoy checking out the strange and unusual – or who at least are into medicine, anatomy, or biology. Maybe not so much for the easily-grossed/creeped out, or for younger kids.
  • Cost: $15
  • Hours: Daily from 10am-5pm
  • Visitor tips: It’s fairly small, so you’ll likely only need one or two hours here. Definitely interesting, as long as you can get past the odd-factor!

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