October Takeover: Morbid Museums

~posted by Selby G. 

Haunted Houses may be tradition at this time of year, but there are places that will make your skin crawl (and teach you a thing or two) all year long. Medical Museums are institutions to educate the public about medicine and health, although entertainment and a dose of gore help bring in the crowds. After all, a real severed head is much more frightening than a plastic prop.

Here’s a list of some medical museums around the world to visit:

Click here to go to the Surgeon's Hall Museum website

Photo courtesy of Surgeon’s Hall

Surgeon’s Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland- This is my personal favorite, but I may be biased because I use to volunteer there. My favorite artifact in this museum is a tibia from a man who suffered with an infection inside the bone for years. A hole in his leg oozed pus so he started putting a cork in it during the day and letting it drain at night. Eventually the leg had to be amputated and the man donated it to the museum. They cut the bone in half so that you can see inside where the infection was- along with the cork still stuck in it.

Click here to visit the Musée Fragonard website

Photo courtesy of Musée Fragonard d’Alfort

Musée de l’Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d’Alfort, Paris, France. As part of the world’s oldest veterinary school, this museum doesn’t get as much attention as others might, although you may have seen pictures of the museum’s most famous exhibit- The Horseman of the Apocalypse. Honoré Fragonard, a professor at the school in the late 1790’s, specialized in dissecting specimens and coating them in a plastic-like substance. The Horseman of the Apocalypse is a human figure riding a horse, of which you can see sections of veins, arteries and muscles. Over two hundred years, and Fragonard’s work still appears ready to trot away.

Click here to go to the Meguro Parasitological Museum website

Photo courtesy of the Meguro Parasitological Museum

Meguro Parasitological Museum, Tokyo, Japan. If that scene from Aliens gives you nightmares, then I suggest you steer clear of this Japanese museum of parasites, because you will come face to face with the alien’s little buddies. Set up in the 1950’s by a doctor who researched parasites, this museum has 60,000 preserved parasitic specimens. They also sell t-shirts with tapeworms printed on them. Truly the gift for everyone.

The Mütter Museum, Philadelphia, USA. In the US, our creepiest (and most educational) museum is probably the Mütter Museum, which is part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Some of their famous specimens include Einstein’s brain, the conjoined liver of “Siamese twins” Chang and Eng, and the tallest skeleton on display in North America. This museum is so popular, and fascinating, that we have three books at the library about it. So if you can’t make it in person, you can always come to the library and check one of these out:

Mütter Museum: Historic Medical Photographs

Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A true tale of intrigue and innovation at the dawn of modern medicine

Find Mütter Museum: Historic Medical Photographs in the SPL catalogFind Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in the SPL catalog Find Dr. Mütter's Marvels in the SPL catalog

 

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