The Mütter Museum is not for the squeamish. Brimming with medical oddities, pathological specimens and antique medical equipment, it’s where you’ll find a book bound in human flesh, dried severed hands, a two-headed baby in formaldehyde, Albert Einstein’s brain and a collection of objects that have been swallowed and removed. There’s also a nine-foot-long human colon that contained 40 pounds of fecal matter (it was once part of a sideshow act called “the Human Balloon”) and the body of “the Soap Lady,” whose corpse turned itself into a soapy substance because of the chemical properties of the soil she was buried in. Visitors can “ooh” and “ahh” at a collection of 139 human skulls in neat rows, or check out the tallest human skeleton on display in North America, which stands tall at 7.5 feet right next to the skeleton of a dwarf.
Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter originally began collecting these strange items, which were donated to The College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1858 for the purpose of medical research and education. To this day, the museum exists with that goal in mind – as well as for the shear purpose of shocking and amazing the general public. As the collection has grown, there are now over 20,000 items on display in jars and cases around the museum. Check out the museum’s YouTube station to be introduced to some of the curiosities of the exhibits.