The Mutter Museum collection begins tamely enough with old medical journals; blood letting apparatuses; a sampling of Ben Franklin's medical inventions and some amazing etchings illustrating the gory, exaggerated details of the then-perceived-as “barbaric” act of body mutilation doctors researching anatomy preformed in the name of science–these etchings were made as a deterrent to criminals, whose corpses often ended up on the dissection table.
As you continue on though, things get creepier and grosser and, eventually, everyone reaches their breaking point. A pre teen girl lost it with the gout wax foot in a jar but her parents wouldn't let her leave. Jim got pretty disturbed with the wax faces displaying various skin diseases, like a missing nose from syphilis. My personal heeby jeeby exhibit was the real, not wax, face that had been sliced off the head and preserved
There's just something so uncomfortable about your own body decaying around you and something so disquieting about the body once it's no longer a person and no spot is more apropos to pondering these feelings than the Mutter Museum.
My favorite part of the museum (which is housed in a lovely old building with many of the displays kept in an exquisite library that feels like the kind of place Sherlock Holmes would visit) is the wall full of skulls, each marked in pen and ink with the victim's name and manner of death. Many were Romanian soldiers who had killed themselves in the 1800s, one was an eighteen year old girl hung for the murder of her children. It's an awe inspiring site and, again, it inspires a moment of unsettling contemplation.
The Mutter is part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, which was founded in 1787. The museum began when Thomas Dent M?tter, retired Professor of Surgery, donated his personal collection in 1856.