Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tumors, Fetuses, and Diseases oh my! A review of the Mϋtter Museum

Another great guest graces our blog! EOR is a full-time student and a writer at She believes in the one true universal principle, Keyboard Cat > Grumpy Cat.

I had the opportunity to go to The Mϋtter Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania recently (hereafter referred to as “The Museum”). It isn’t really like other museums in that it is small, poorly lit, and instead of being filled with art it is filled with medical oddities, and other miscellanea relative to the study of the human body.

The Museum first opened in 1863 as part of the College of Physicians in order to study the human body. We toured the museum ourselves (I obtained a ticket for a mere $10 with my Student ID) and it took around two hours to look over everything thoroughly. Some of the specimens were plaster casts or molds such as the famous conjoined twins Chang and Eng

Some were slides, such as the brain of Albert Einstein (not pictured), but by far the most interesting specimens of course were the book-bindings made from human “leather”, skeletons, and the wet specimens. The wet specimens consisted of everything from an entire wall of deformed fetuses, several tumors, and assorted body parts including the brain (both whole and cross-sectioned) as well as a face.

Another interesting feature when we were there is that there were three skulls on display representing the three recognized races of human being. You could guess which skull belonged to which race and then call the telephone number to find out if you were correct. We guessed correctly on all of them, but it was interesting to be able to see the differences and deduce our way to the answer.

The Museum does not allow photographs to be taken, but in the interest of ethics I have only included photographs (from the internet) of specimens I actually saw.

If you're in the Philadelphia area, or has the means to make the trip it is an experience that I highly recommend. One thing that cannot be stressed enough though is that one must attend with the goal of medical knowledge, otherwise there is just too much there to break your heart. Specimens are presented without comment or judgment as is proper. If this will make you sick or make you feel bad I suggest not going because you certainly can’t “unsee” all these things. I would be happy to discuss any follow-up questions.

Street parking was as fair as one might expect in any major city, and the gift shop (generally a highlight of any museum) was a real let-down.

We only included a small sample of EOR's Mϋtter Museum pictures on this post. Click here to check out the full 99 picture gallery. Warning: Some of the pictures are graphic and potentially disturbing; view at your own risk!


  1. That is some genuinely trippy stuff. Now I have the first item for my To Do List: Philadelphia edition.

  2. Interesting post--and welcome to the blog! I really wanted to make a (lame) joke about how this museum was doubtless created by someone with a name like Stephen "The Sociopath" Mütter, but then I realized that that sounds more like a wicked awesome wrestling name.


  3. I LOVE the 19th century and the creation of museums. It's so interesting to think of these efforts in concert with both changing perspectives in science (i.e., positivism) as well as larger cultural movements both in society and in entertaiment. P.T. Barnum was huge into "freak shows" and oddity museums for both financial and moral reasons. As an advocate of temperance, he argued that providing a space where people could go and see stuff like this could be a moral and family-oriented alternative to saloon and bar culture.

    Has anyone ever gone to a Body Worlds exhibit?