The Mutter Museum , located in the heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania , is a medical museum part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia including collection of medical oddities, anatomical and pathological specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment. The original purpose of the collection, donated by Dr. Thomas Dent Mutter in 1858, was medical research and education.
The Mutter Museum is being ranked as one of the most unusual places in the world. Established by Thomas Dent Mütter in 1856, the Museum was intended to display medical rarities. Today its collections contain some 20,000 human specimens and medical instruments from the 19th century to the present.
Gretchen Worden (1947–2004) remains perhaps the best known person associated with the Mutter Museum. She joined the museum staff as an assistant in 1975, and became the museum’s director in 1988. After a short illness she passed away at only 56 years and Mutter Museum opened a gallery in her memory. During her 16 year administration of the museum, attendance increased from several hundred to over 60,000 a year.
The Mütter Museum is best known for the Hyrtl Skull Collection and other anatomical specimens including a wax model of a woman with a horn growing out of her forehead along with several wax molds of untreated conditions of the head. A nine-foot-long human colon that contained over 40 pounds of fecal matter which originally came from a sideshow act called the human Ballooncan also be found here along with the body of the Soap Lady, whose corpse turned itself into a soapy substance called adipocere better known as grave wax.
Many wax models from the early 19th century are on display as are numerous preserved organs and body parts. The museum also hosts a collection of teratological specimens (preserved human fetal specimens) all of which were donated to science. Mütter Museum also includes a malignant tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland’s hard palate , the conjoined liver from the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker , a piece of tissue removed from the thorax of Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth and a section of the brain of Charles J. Guiteau who assassinated U.S. President James A. Garfield.
This Museum is not for the faint of heart , some visitors may have a hard time dealing with the contents of this museum. The Mutter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia offers incredible sights. Upon entering, visitors are greeted by the Hyrtal Skull Collection: 139 human skulls labeled as to where it came from and what happened to its previous owner.
Not for everyone , though each year brings higher attendance , the Mutter Museum is a fascinating study in things that can go wrong with a human body. There are no formal programs, but a tour is an education that will not soon be forgotten. A unique calendar can be purchased from the museum. The price of admission also includes the College Gallery, which features changing exhibitions.