It’s been a busy couple of days, and as I result I’ve half-started about a dozen posts that now will likely never see the (virtual) light of day. On Tuesday morning, Paul Offit and I were guests on WHYY’s Radio Times, on Tuesday evening, Dr. Offit and I spoke at the College of Physicians in Philadelphia, which was sponsored by the College’s History of Vaccines program. (Sometime soon, a video of an interview with the College’s director, Dr. George Wohlreich, will be posted on the medical society’s YouTube channel.)
There’s plenty to report about all of the above, but I feel compelled to at least briefly bow to the genius that is The Mutter Museum, a sort of cabinet of medical/anthropological curiosities housed within the College’s headquarters in downtown Philadelphia. It’s awesome.
To give a brief sense of what’s contained therein, here’s a paragraph from the museum’s description of its exhibits: “Normal and Abnormal Fetal Development, Obstetrics and Gynecology is highlighted by the plaster cast of the Original Siamese Twins Chang and Eng Bunker and their preserved livers. Wet specimens, skeletons and models show major and minor developmental and genetic disorders, including conjoined twins, anencephaly, and spina bifida. A huge ovarian cyst and malformed pelves dramatically illustrate the health challenges of 19th century women.”
My personal stop-me-in-my-tracks display was a huge human colon — and removed after the death of a 29-year-old man in 1892.
(If you need any other convincing that this is worth visiting, you can check out the Museum’s virtual tour.)
Before the end of the night, I’d learned that the Brothers Quay, whose brilliant Street of Crocodiles may very well be my favorite movie of all time, have been commissioned to do a documentary about the Museum. There’s an interview with Stephen and Timothy about this project here.