January 03 2017

Comings and Goings at the Mütter Museum in 2017

We’ll be saying goodbye to two of our beloved exhibitions this week. Stop by to see David Orr’s Perfect Vessels and Vesalius On The Verge: The Book and The Body one last time… and read on to find out what will be replacing them!

Perfect Vessels opened on July 6th, 2016 and has been extremely popular in the news and with our visitors. David Orr, who is an LA-based artist and photographer, was inspired by our famous Hyrtl Skull Collection. Orr was interested in the many imperfections of the skulls in Hyrtl’s collection and when he photographed them he chose to mirror the one half to create a perfectly symmetrical image of the skull. Symmetry has been considered a measure of physical attractiveness for quite some time, and that continues today (a synonym for beauty is actually symmetry) and although the skulls have many flaws, when they are repeated, Orr was able to reveal a distinct beauty to them.

The new exhibition Tracing the Remains will be replacing Perfect Vessels, and also looked to The Mütter Museum’s collection for inspiration. Sabrina Small and Caitlin McCormack are both Philly artists that explore the art of life, death, and decay in their work. Caitlin’s work includes amazingly intricate crocheted pieces that she stiffens with glue - which creates a material almost like bone tissue - while Sabrina’s work gleams with layers of beadwork and hand-stitching, often in bright and bold colors, on felt. This new exhibit brings a new life to the specimens of our collection and you don’t want to miss the opening reception! Tracing the Remains will be open to the public from January 13 - July 6, 2017.

In December 2014 our Historical Medical Library premiered Vesalius On The Verge: The Book and The Body in honor of Vesalius’ 500th birthday. Vesalius was an incredibly important figure and is considered the “Father of Modern Anatomy” - a title he earned by being one of the first to use human dissection as a main teaching tool. At the time medical students learned by reading classical texts and watching dissections on animals. Vesalius, however, taught human dissection and actually urged his students to perform dissections as well, instead of just watching. In 1543 Vesalius published De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body), which was a series of seven books based on his research of the human body. This exhibition features an edition of the Fabrica book and you can see the extremely detailed illustrations that delivered groundbreaking information to the people of the time.

In March 2017 the Historical Medical Library will premiere their new exhibit, Imperfecta. Did you know that physicians used the word “monster” as an official medical term well into the 20th century? How was this term used? This is sure to be an eye-opening exhibition as we explore the history of what made us medical “monsters”. Can’t wait until March? We understand. Our Librarian Beth Lander will be talking about the new exhibition at the next Science on Tap on January 9!


IMPORTANT NOTICE: There is no elevator access during the months of January & February. Please click here for more information about our renovations.

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.

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  • Philadelphia, PA 19103
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  • Monday through Sunday
  • 10am–5pm
  • We are closed on Thanksgiving, December 24, December 25 and January 1