Thursday, September 22, 2016


For years I've heard about the Mutter Museum. For some backwards reason I thought it was in Germany or possibly Amsterdam. As most of you know I spent the weekend under Mike Lombardo's roof. I don't remember how the subject came up, but he surprised me by telling me that the Mutter was in Philadelphia. We decided to go there the next day.

There were four of us: Kevin Strange, Mike Lombardo, Lex Quinn and myself. I hate driving through cities, and Philly was no exception, but when we approached the Mutter I was in awe. It was totally worth it.

Inside the very first thing we saw was Einstein's brain. I didn't know what I was looking at at first, but someone mentioned it, and I thought HOLY SHIT. This is the brain of the person who is thought to be the smartest person who had ever lived. Already the museum was worth the price of admission.

But there was so much more. I saw a wall of skulls, and many of them had the nationality of who each one belonged to in life. Sometimes it even had the cause of death. Every once in a while there was a name. They have a save-a-skull thing: if you donate enough money you can save one of the skulls and have your name in the Mutter Museum. If I had the cash, I would totally do that. If *you* have the money, click on the link and help out.

There's more. You can see deformities caused by STDs, for example. If you've ever wanted to see a skull altered by syphilis, you can find it here. For some people being surrounded by such imagery of death can be overwhelming. For me it was fascinating. I have no illusions about what happens to us when we die, and to be surrounded by so many examples stimulated me (my brain, that is; get your head out of the gutter).

Then we entered a room that thoroughly impressed me. It described Civil War field amputations. They even have an interactive thing where you can stand in one place and see an animated arm attached to you where your real arm should be. You get shot in the war, and it shows you what would happen. Not too far away from there is a display about Walt Whitman. I know a fair amount about him, but I had no idea that he was a nurse during the war. He'd sit at the bedsides of wounded soldiers, trying to comfort them, and when they died he would write letters of consolation to their families. Very touching.

And then there's the Soap Lady. I'm not going to say much about her. You just need to see her in person. All right, I'll say something. She's a mummy, but she looks like she died in sheer agony. But she didn't. According to science, that's just the way of her natural decomposition. Interestingly enough, they sell Soap Lady soap in the gift shop.

There's a wall of pickled fetuses. There are more than one display for conjoined twins. If you've ever wanted to know what organs look like you'll find displays for them all. I found a gall bladder, which I no longer have my own. And I saw gall stones. Interesting. There is even a colon on display. And yes, I found a hard dick. I usually do. There was a scrotum next to it. Next to that was a preserved vagina.

I was pretty worn out by everything. Not that I was grossed out. No, I was more fascinated than Spock ever was. But walking around that place is pretty wearying for a flop sweater like myself. I had to sit down and rest for a bit. I got to watch everyone's reactions to the displays in that room (which included a boulder of an ovarian cyst). Not a single person was grossed out. I'm proud of them. Their reaction was a healthy interest.

But my favorite display? The one that fascinated me the most? Shit. Photography is prohibited there. Yet I'm sure they know who their most popular attraction is. Upstairs they have a banner of this guy:

Meet the Mutter Giant. Isn't he a sinister looking bastard? That's just the banner. I got to see the real bones, and he's ten times more scary. In life he was seven-six, if memory serves. I'm six-one. The regular skeleton they had next to him was more my height. He also has a dwarf skeleton in there next to him, just for comparison. But the Giant? I cannot describe to you how menacing he is in death. His hands hang by his knees like a gorilla's. Look in his eyes and you see pure malice. He towers over me. Like one of my favorite actors, Rondo Hatton (the Creeper from the old Universal pictures), the Giant had acromegaly. He did not live very long. I'm sure he was a nice guy, but seeing him so many years after his death genuinely creeped me out.

There is so much more at the Mutter. You all need to see it for yourselves. Just don't go down to see the Giant on your own. Something tells me this guy walks around at night after everyone else is gone. Planning.

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