This exhibition traces the history and development of spinal medicine through objects donated by Parviz Kambin, MD, the foremost pioneer in minimally invasive spinal surgery. Learn about some of today's most common forms of spinal injury and disease, discover past medical treatments, and understand how technological leaps by doctors are opening up new frontiers of treatment options once only dreamed of.
The Mütter Museum acquired this collection of 139 human skulls from Viennese anatomist Joseph Hyrtl (1810-1894) in 1874. His work was an attempt to counter the claims of phrenologists, who held that cranial features were evidence of intelligence and personality and that racial differences caused anatomical differences. Hyrtl’s aim in collecting and studying the skulls was to show that cranial anatomy varied widely in the Caucasian population of Europe.
The Soap Lady is the name given to a woman whose body was exhumed in Philadelphia in 1875. The specimen is unique because a fatty substance called adipocere encases the remains. Adipocere formation is not common, but it may form in alkaline, warm, airless environments, such as the one in which the Soap Lady was buried.
Chevalier Jackson, MD (1865-1958), was a renowned Philadelphia otolaryngologist and Fellow of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He developed methods and tools for removing foreign objects from human airways. The Jackson Collection includes 2,374 inhaled or swallowed foreign bodies that Dr. Jackson extracted from patients’ throats, esophaguses, and lungs during his almost 75-year-long career. Most of the items are on display.
The Mütter Museum is one of only two places in the world where you can see pieces of Albert Einstein’s brain. Brain sections, 20 microns thick and stained with cresyl violet, are preserved in glass slides on display in the main Museum Gallery.
These conjoined twins were born in what is now Thailand in 1811. They came to the United States in 1829 to tour and speak. Eventually tiring of life as touring performers, they married sisters and bought adjacent farms in North Carolina in the early 1840s.
Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and colonial Philadelphia doctor and civic leader, helped found The College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1787. During his tenure, he urged College Fellows to maintain a medicinal garden as a natural and cooperative way to replenish their medicine chests.
No Civil War battles were fought in or near Philadelphia, but the war came here in other ways. On trains and steamboats, tens of thousands of wounded and sick soldiers arrived in the city, to be cared for in local hospitals.
The Mütter Museum helps the public appreciate the mysteries and beauty of the human body while understanding the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.