Brothers Quay documentary about the Mutter Museum

The Brothers Quay, creators of phantasmagorical stop-motion animation, are shooting a documentary film about the College of Physicians of Philadelphia's Mutter Museum, the incredible wunderkammer of antique wax anatomical models, pathological specimens, and antique medical instruments. (If you can't make it to the museum in person, the gorgeous Mutter Museum coffee table book and Mutter Museum 2011 Calendar are the next best things.) — Read the rest

Secret photo archives of the Mutter Museum: haunting book of Victorian pathological curiosities

Master archivist Rick Prelinger sez,

Always my first stop in Philadelphia, the Mutter Museum is the Victorian-era medical museum holding thousands of unforgettable (and often unsettling) objects, including anatomical and pathological specimens, models and instruments. While the Mutter demonstrates what 19th-century physicians did NOT know about disease, it also challenges our supposed sophistication about science and medicine and leads us to think about the infinite distance that separates us from the insides of our bodies.

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Happy International Museum Day!

Today is International Museum Day! To celebrate, the President of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), Emma Nardi, shared her message, which began:  

As President of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), I am delighted to address you on the occasion of International Museum Day 2023.

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Dr. Mütter's Marvels: intrigue and innovation at the dawn of modern medicine

Specializing in performing reconstructive surgery on the severely deformed in a time before anesthesia, Thomas Dent Mütter was one of the first American pioneers of plastic surgery. In the new book, Dr Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, author Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz explores the life and times of this idiosyncratic doctor and American original.

Curiously vampiric teeth of untreated syphilis sufferers

This 1863 image from the Wellcome Trust illustrates a distinctly vampiric set of "Syphilitic malformations of the permanent teeth" — makes you wonder if the visual image of the vampire was inspired by the widespread horrors of untreated syphilis (for an exceptionally visceral window into a society wracked by untreated syphilis, have a look at the Mutter Museum's display of syphilitic skulls). — Read the rest

Carl Zimmer's "The Girl Who Turned To Bone"

In The Atlantic, science writer extraordinaire Carl Zimmer wrote a fascinating long article about fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), a rare medical disorder in which the sufferer grows a second skeleton. (Above, the skeleton of FOP-sufferer Harry Raymond Eastlack, on display at the Mütter Museum.)Read the rest

Syphilis and gonorreah from posters the early days of antibiotics

From How to Be a Retronaut, a fine gallery of scanned syphilis/gonorreah posters from the last days of each disease's reign of terror, before widespread use of antibiotics. If you're ever in Philadelphia and want to get a sense of how scary syphilis must have been in its day, head on over to the Mutter Museum, an exhibit of pathological curiosities, and have a gander at the cases of syphilitic skulls. — Read the rest

Weird things people swallow

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In the 19th and 20th centuries, laryngologist Chevalier Jackson pioneered new methods to remove weird things that people swallowed, from safety pins, buttons, cigarette butts, and even a toy dog (seen here in the esophagus of the 3-year-old who gulped it down). — Read the rest