Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Day with Dr. Mutter

My friend Amy visited from NYC this weekend. I had been saving a special tourist attraction until Amy came to visit because I knew that she would love this attraction, The Mutter Museum. Although Philadelphia has some amazing art and history museums, The Mutter Museum offers something that I have never seen before. Human medical anomalies, medical history, and antique medical instruments are on display at The Mutter Museum. The museum respects the medical history in the objects on display. It could be very easy to make this a 'freak show' type museum, but it is an educational experience for the history, science, sociology, and anthropology enthusiast.

I don't even know where to start. There are 2,000 items that have been removed from people's throat! I saw a death cast of the Chang and Eng-the conjoined twins, a variety of tumors, a huge collection of skulls, the tallest skeleton in North America, and medical instruments that I am so happy will never be used on me. I must not forget to mention the largest colon I have ever seen! It was the length of my arm span and as wide as a trunk of a tree.

This is not a museum for just anyone. There were times where I was left feeling disturbed, yet I was also left feeling thankful. As I walked along and viewed all the unfortunate malformations and diseases that have plagued human kind, I was thankful that I live in an age where medical knowledge and skills can aid patients with such ailments. On the other hand, I was disturbed at the number of conditions, particularly with babies, that still occur and there is nothing medical science can do for them. They are just born that way and do not survive. I was surprised at what I found disgusting and what I was comfortable viewing. My reaction to the items that had been found in people's throats really disgusted me, yet I viewed the huge collection of skulls without an adverse gut reaction and great interest. The skulls were labeled with the cause of death and location.

Along with so many other Philadelphia landmarks, museums, and sights, I will never be able to see these things anywere else.


Anonymous said...

Just spent the last hour or so reading selections from your blogs. I found it using Google to search blogs for references to Bryn Mawr. I live in Virginia and my daughter will be a freshman at B M College beginning this fall. For some reason I've had a hard time adjusting to the idea - not because she is going away to college but more particulalry because its Bryn Mawr. I visited the school and Philadelpia with her twice, so I sort of know the Lancaster Ave. (Road?) area, and she and I spent an evening in April 2005 in the Borders that could be the one you recently worked in. One of the things that I am doing to try and get more positive about where she is going is to learn what I can about the school and the community. So I found your blog and am writing to thank you for writing it. I've enjoyed reading!

Sara said...

Thanks for reading my blog. Check back often as I write about Bryn Mawr and the area.

Eyes said...

Ah! I can post again (god knows why!).

The museum reminds me of what I found in Fastinau, Austria. We were visiting the little mountain town, checking out the beautiful church when around the corner my family spotted something usual. It was a war memorial. We went in. Inside were some 500 skulls, stacked against a wall. They had last names and the date of their death.

The memorial served to deter people from war, and I must say it was dramatic. It had a huge effect. To think all those people died due to war. Many cities in Austria did this. I think it is brilliant. Unforgettable.

Anonymous said...

You forgot the most important statistic about that colon: when they removed it, it was filled with 40 lbs. of shit. 40 lbs.

thanks for taking me to see the anomalies. I can't decide what was my favorite part - I'm leaning toward the soap lady or the trephined skulls at this point (although....the conjoined twin historical exhibit has to be on the list as well)