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Mysteries: The Mütter Museum

Updated on November 23, 2015
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Medvekoma is a fan of the bizarre and the interesting, and loves to read different mysteries time to time, as well as collecting them.

History of the museum

Philadelphia's Mütter museum originally opened in 1863 from a donation of $30 000 and a collection of objects by surgeon Thomas Dent Mütter. The doctor's conditions were simple: the college would hire a curator to the museum, grow the collection, hold annual lectures and house all of these in a fireproof building.

Ever since the museum came a long way, collecting all kinds of oddities that include the liver of famous conjoined twins Chang & Eng, the brain of Albert Einstein and the skeleton of the American giant. The collection is gaining international recognition due to its fairly radical concept, with a Discovery Channel documentary already released along with two best-sellers.

The "ordinary" content

The mildly-strange and unnerving part of the museum includes hundreds of bones and pieces from the human skeleton as well as wet specimen, organs and different tissues preserved in jars. These object include those that were originally donated by Doctor Mütter. One of the more famous skeletons is the 7'6'' tall one that belonged to the American Giant.

Interesting is the effort required to keep these specimen intact, with special airflow providing the necessary humidity in the room as well as taking care of the foul odor that would most definitely turn guests away as soon as their noses catch the real essence of the exhibition.


Book bound with human skin

The collection includes an 18th century book on pregnancy, going into details about different stages, effects on the everyday life and eventually the process of birth. However, that's not the most interesting thing about this certain book.

Yes, the subtitle was right: this book is covered with human skin, taken from a woman's tights during a re-binding in the late 19th century.

Adopt a skull program

There are 139 skulls on display in the museum collected by Austrian doctor Joseph Hyrtl. Each of these skulls tell a different story, yet the museum decided to give them a chance for rebirth lately.

Yes, one can adopt a skull for $200, which will pay for the restoration of the skull, placing it on a display afterwards that will have the name of the "father" or "mother" on a plaque right next to it.


Einstein's Brain

When Einstein died in 1955, an autopsy was performed on his body. In a biography released in 1979 claims Einstein intended his brain to be used for scientific research, however the matter is still controversial as the doctor performing the autopsy removed the brain, took pictures of it then sliced it up into more than two hundred small cubes.

After hiding them for twenty years, the brain's fate was finally revealed to the public. The pieces were eventually acquired by the National Museum of Health and Medicine, and today the only place one can see the pieces in public is the Mütter Museum of Philadelphia.


The skeleton of Harry Raymond Eastlack

Eastlack suffered from an extremely rare condition called Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, shortened to FOP. Victims of this conditions see their tissues slowly transforming into bones, their skeletons eventually fusing together with muscles and organs, trapping them in their own body.

Eastlack donated his skeleton to the Mütter museum in order to raise attention to the condition and with hopes of future research conducted. The skeleton is an important treasure to science as the condition is so rare, doctors have a really hard time finding specimens to study.

The giant colon

The museum displays the giant colon of a sideshow performer, which is over 8 feet long and over 20 inches in diameter. The performer was called the "balloon man" and the "Human Windbag", using his eerie condition to earn a living in freak shows.

According to the myths, he could go on for a month without bowel movements, and his colon could house over 20 pounds of feces. Not disgusting enough? The Mütter museum proudly offers a plush mega colon in its store for you to take home as souvenir!

The soap lady

The soap lady is the corpse of a woman exhumed from Old City, whose flesh turned into a substance resembling soap due to a rare chemical reaction. The mummy is the focus of many researches, with numerous academics trying to determine her date of death, age or even the era she came from.


The conjoined liver

Mütter museum's exhibition includes a strange wet specimen too, the conjoined liver of the Siamese conjoined twins Chang and Eng. After a Scottish men discovered the two and brought them to a world tour, the conjoined twins went on a spree themselves and fired up their business of traveling the world and showcasing their curious condition.

The twins later started up business on a plantation and even got married with ten and twelve children respectively. Their only conjoined organ, their liver, is on display in the Mütter museum for visitors to examine.


The Mütter museum sates our interest towards the deformed, towards the curious when it comes to the human body. Shocking or even disgusting to some, the collection still attracts more than a hundred thousand visitors each year, with the museum's fame growing ever more.

While some would presume visitors to be of a strange demographics, fans of the bizarre and the strange, the museum's website instead states the guests come from all kinds of demographics, including seniors, academics and simple tourists.


A markerMütter Museum - Philadelphia -
19 S 22nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA
get directions

The Mütter museum showcases medical oddities and strange specimen in their originality, without a milk glass to look through.

© 2015 Medvekoma


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