Philadelphia has long been a center for medical research and education. Even today, over a quarter of all doctors in the United States receive part of their education in the city of brotherly love. The College of Physicians, the oldest professional medical organization in the U.S., is home to the most unique of all Philadelphia attractions: the Mutter Museum.
Located in the Rittenhouse
Square area of Center City Philadelphia, the Mutter
Museum houses a collection of nineteenth-century medical
oddities. Mutter Museum exhibits include an enormous 50-pound
distended colon, taken from the body of a man who dies
of constipation; the liver shared by famous conjoined
twins Chang and Eng Bunker; and the exhumed body of an
obese woman whose fat turned posthumously into almost
100% pure soap. If you're looking for things to
do in Philadelphia and want a break from the usual historic tourist sites, the Mutter
Museum is the place to go.
The heart of the Mutter Museum Philadelphia is taken from the collection of Thomas Dent Mütter, who gathered various medical and anatomical oddities to educate nineteenth-century students. By the time he died, Dr. Mütter had gathered a collection of over 1,700 bones, models, and preserved body parts. Since his death, the College of Physicians has added to the Mutter Museum collection with like objects, including a cancerous tumor that was secretly removed from President Grover Cleveland's jaw while he was in office, the thorax of presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth, and bladder stones from James Marshall, former chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. Today there are over 20,000 items in the Mutter Museum exhibits.
The Mutter Museum Philadelphia is no place to visit around mealtime. The Eye Wall of Shame, a display of wax models of eyeballs, including various disturbing eye diseases and a retina penetrated by a toothpick. Other unusual Mutter Museum exhibits not for those with a queasy stomach are the wall of misshaped aborted fetuses, the drawers containing items taken from patient's throats, sliced sections of the human head, and the wall of skulls collected from around the world.
The Mutter Museum Philadelphia is located at 19 South 22nd Street. The museum is open 10 am to 5 pm daily and some Friday evenings. Admission is $12 for adults. Entrance to the Mutter Museum exhibits includes admission to a large temporary exhibition space showing more modern items from the medical world.
Forget the Liberty Bell or Philadelphia Zoo, no trip to Philly is complete without a visit to the Mutter Museum and one of the most unusual collections in the world.