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PHILADELPHIA, PA – The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, home of The Mütter Museum, is thrilled to announce the establishment of the Gretchen Worden Chair for the Mütter Museum, after receipt of a generous $2m endowment. The chair endowment has been funded by two major gifts from Fellows of the College.
The new chair commemorates and honors the work of former Mütter Museum Curator Gretchen Worden. The announcement was made at a special event that celebrated Worden, and bestowed the chair to the museum’s current curator, Anna Dhody. This is the first new chair established at the College in twelve years, and is the first in a series of upcoming announcements to come from the College as it prepares to formally launch a Comprehensive Campaign.
George Wohlreich, MD, President and CEO of the College said “We are launching a major campaign to transform the College, and we are extremely grateful and thankful for these donors who made significant contributions to establish this chair: Connie Williams, former state representative and chair of the Board of Trustees at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Sankey Williams, former chair of the Board of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia; and Andrea Baldeck, current chair of the Board.”
“The Mütter Museum was a teaching collection for medical students, and now it is the most amazing educational tool for a hugely diverse audience, and it’s growing all the time,” remarked Dr. Andrea Baldeck. “We can credit Gretchen Worden with her passion and her advocacy for this collection. When she began, 5,000 people a year visited the Mütter Museum. Now we have about 180,000 visitors a year, and we need more room. As part of this multi-stage project, to increase access to our huge, growing, and diversifying audience, we are underwriting some of the crucial chairs at the College. It gives me great pleasure to know that the Gretchen Worden chair goes to Anna Dhody, a woman with such spirit and humor. I salute her for being curator of the Mütter Museum and the best possible occupant of this new chair.”
“The endowed chair means a lot to me, not just financially, but also personally, to know that people really care about and support our collections, and also the work we do here with the collections,” said Anna Dhody, Curator of the Mütter Museum and Director of the Mütter Research Institute, and recipient of the new chair. “Having this endowed chair means we can continue to do great work, and embark on even greater new projects. We’re using our historical collections in so many ways that can impact the future. We’re inspiring future scientists. We’re working with institutions around the work to learn more about our collections, and to learn more about public health throughout history and the present.”
About: Gretchen Worden (1947-2004)
Curator, Mütter Museum (1982–2004)
Director, Mütter Museum (1988–2004)
Gretchen Worden was born in 1947 in Shanghai, China, moving again to Moncalieri, Italy before her family settled in Media, PA. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Temple University in 1970. Gretchen began working at the Mütter Museum as Assistant to the Curator in 1975 and was promoted to Museum Director in 1988. She combined an encyclopedic knowledge of medical history, a tart sense of humor, and an incandescent presence to forge an international reputation as a museum educator and spokesperson for the Mütter Museum. With her guidance, the Museum’s collection and public
prominence grew exponentially while framing the Museum’s collection as an ode to medicine and the human body rather than simply a cabinet of curiosities. Among her many articles and essays, television appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, and radio interviews, she is also the author of the book, Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians, published in 2002.
About: Anna N. Dhody, MFS
Curator, Mütter Museum (2007–present)
Director, Mütter Research Institute (2014–present)
As curator of the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Anna Dhody, an experienced forensic anthropologist, oversees the Mütter Museum’s collection, and works to provide a unique, informative experience for its 180,000+ annual visitors. During her tenure
at the Mütter museum, Anna has curated many exhibits and collaborated with scholars from around the world to conduct research on the Mütter Museum’s collection. One of her main goals is to show that a 19th century collection can have 21st century relevance, academically, medically, and artistically. Ms. Dhody is the author of The Underground Crime Scene: The Use of
Archaeological Excavation Techniques in the Recovery of Buried Crime Scene Evidence. In 2014 she became the Director of the Mütter Institute, the research arm of the Mütter Museum, in addition to her role of the Mütter Museum’s Curator.
About the Mütter Museum
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia was founded in 1787 by a group of physicians including Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of our nation’s Declaration of Independence. It is not an academic organization, as the name suggests, but a not-for-profit educational and cultural institution, with the mission of advancing the cause of health while upholding the ideals and heritage of medicine.
The College is home to the Mütter Museum, America’s finest museum of medical history, which displays collections of anatomical specimens, models and medical instruments in a nineteenth-century setting. This includes slides of Einstein’s Brain, the 139 skulls from Hyrtl’s collection, and a biannual rotation of art exhibits that accompany the themes and aims of the museum’s collections.
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.