Collections of twisted contorted skeletons, engorged organs, grotesque tumors, and various kinds of deformities were neatly arranged and displayed behind locked cabinets and shelves at the Mütter Museum. If you’re interested in medical curiosities and historical artifacts, then I highly recommend visiting the Mütter Museum. It has the most incredible collections of anatomical deformities and exhibits of pathological symptoms of different diseases that I have ever seen. It’s not for you, if you have no stomach for these kinds of things. If you’re interested in medical history, a nerd, or have a taste for the macabre, then it’s a fascinating place to visit.
When you walk in the main area of the museum, it resembles a wealthy man’s collection of oddities from the Victorian era. A stately looking library with dark wood walls and panels lined with cabinets of curiosities. It’s a fairly small museum in that it consists of two stories with a few rooms, but there’s so much crammed in all of those rooms. Many of the displays that typewritten explanations, which were very helpful and interesting, but the small font and the cramped conditions (you had to crouch down to read anything displayed on the bottom shelf) made the viewing experience a physically exhausting one.
I can’t begin to describe all that they have there. Hundreds of skulls. Several skeletons. Wax models of diseased parts of the body. Embalmed and preserved organs and limbs. Dried human body parts. Different surgical tools. Stories of conjoined twins, such as Chang and Eng Bunker. Explanations of rare diseases. Ben and I walked around completely absorbed for more than a couple of hours.
19 S 22nd St Philadelphia, PA 19103
Open 7 days a week (10 am – 5 pm), excluding some holidays.
General Admission: $15
Student & Youth: $10
Other discounts available.
After lunch Ben and I went to the Reading Terminal Market before getting on our train back home. The market reminded me very much of St Lawrence Market in Toronto. There was a small fresh fruit and vegetable market, fresh fish and seafood market, and lots and lots of stands selling food. It was a feast for the eyes, as well as for the stomach. We bought some fresh fruit and then some jambalaya from Beck’s Cajun Cafe and a scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream. I wish I could remember where I got the ice cream because it was delicious — sweet chocolate laced with ribbons of peanut butter.
The most fun we had was looking at chocolate from Chocolate by Mueller. This chocolatier might be familiar to you if you watch Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizarre Foods. On that particular episode, he ate a chocolate covered onion. They have plenty more if you want to try it yourself. Ben and I were satisfied with taking a picture of it.
They had other quirky chocolate goodies that delighted the nerdy side of us: chocolate brains, anatomically correct chocolate hearts, chocolate ears (with terrible puns), and a receding hare line bar.
One of the things that I really enjoyed about Philadelphia was the abundance of public and street art found on the streets and public areas. If you’re really interested in this kind of thing, you can take a tour through the Mural Arts Program. We didn’t have time, but we did keep a sharp eye out for artistic beauty throughout the city. My favorite was coming up on Coming Home, a mural by David Guinn found by 21st St. and Arch St. I love the pixelated look to the the mural, which gives this dreamy quality to the work. I also thought it was an interesting new modern perspective on impressionistic painting. Impressionism was a 19th century art movement that was more interested in impressions of light, rather than veridical representations of life. Pointilism derived from Impressionism and was interested in creating images through dots of pure color applied in a certain pattern. I thought the big blocks of color in Coming Home were the blown up images of pixels that you would see on a digital photo. The pixels are arranged in a way to give an impression of someone walking down a quiet residential street and seen from across the street, you could be lulled into a sense that you too could walk straight into that scene.
Ben and I took the train from Market East, where I was delighted to find this colorful tile mural. Up close and in person, the mural just looks like a colorful abstract work of art. But I gasped in surprise when I discovered that the mural was really an impressionistic rendition of trees when seen through the camera lens or when standing farther away.
Of course, no trip to Philadelphia is complete without recreating the iconic scene of Rocky Balboa running up the steps in front the Philadelphia Museum of Art. So here I am, flying high on top of the steps.