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135 votes

The Mutter Museum

19 S 22nd Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103 USA

Closed Now
Opens Sat 10a
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Wheelchair Accessible
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“this museum's got it.. bones and all”

The body of a woman turned to soap, a wall of deformed skulls, pickled babies in hazy jars, and the world’s largest colon. If these things have piqued your interest instead of turning your stomach, this creepy museum of the macabre might be the perfect weekend getaway.

Located in downtown Philadelphia, the Mütter Museum has the distinct honor of being the grossest museum in America (with Leila’s Hair Museum coming in at a close second). While the building isn’t huge by any means, the curators have managed to jam it full of some of the weirdest medical oddities ever cut from the human body.. and in some cases, the entire corpse. Mutter Museum began humbly enough in 1858 as a small donation of weird specimens by Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. As the years went on, so many freakish oddities and outliers were added that it required its own building.

Today, the Mütter Museum has taken on a kind of steampunk attitude, its wood and brass accents contrasting heavily against the squishy things floating in faded jars. There’s a whole section dedicated to mutants (the kind devoid of laser eyes or adamantium skeletons), a cabinet filled with well over 2,000 strange items swallowed by a single person, and the twisted corpse of a woman whose body turned completely into soap. Oh yeah, ever wanted to know what tanned human leather looks like? They’ve got that too.

Roadtrippers got the chance to interview Anna Dhody, curator of The Mutter Museum about some of the most underrated exhibits hidden away on the shelves. More often than not, most people visit the Mutter and make a beeline straight for the giant colon, but what we wanted to know about were the hidden gems that often get overlooked. Without further ado, here are the top three exhibits you probably missed (but shouldn't) on your trip to the Mutter Museum.  

According to Anna, the first thing you can’t miss peeping is the Corrosion Specimen. If you head to the teratology, you’ll find a placenta. It once belonged to a woman who had been pregnant with twins, but unfortunately only one of the twins survived. If you look closely you’ll notice a perfectly preserved embryo skeleton visible inside. 

Next take a stroll over to the Worden Gallery, and you'll find number two on the list... a jar of picked human skin. Gross? A little. But according to Anna, it’s a great educational specimen and teaching tool.

Most psychological disorders, like depression or OCD, aren’t necessarily physically visable. That’s where the jar of picked human skin comes in. The skin once belonged to a person suffering from Dermatillomania, or a psychological tick that causes sufferers to continuously pick at their skin. Sure the artifact is a little gross, but according to Dhody it's also pretty awesome.

"Human curiosity compels us to know more," Anna explained, "and that's why most people come to the museum and leave having learned something new." We couldn't agree more. 

Finally, last but not least takes guests on another spin through the Worden Gallery to an inconspicuous shelf laid-out with wonderful curiosities. There you'll find a light plaster cast in the shape of a misshapen balloon. No it's not a deflated party favor, it's the cast of man who had a herniated scrotum so large that he had to walk his “parts” around in a wheelbarrow. No we're not kidding. -Roadtrippers

This strange building is considered america's finest museum of medical history,and the Mütter displays its perfectly preserved collections of weird anatomical specimens, wax models, and bizarre medical instruments of the past in a 19th century "cabinet museum" setting.

The museum's goal is to further the public understand of the mysteries and beauty of the human body while appreciating the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.

The Collection humble beginnings started as a donation from Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter, who was determined to improve medical education.

Today the museum enjoys international popularity, including a recent documentary on the Discovery Channel, as well as two best-selling books.

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Reviewed by
Greg Newkirk

  • Expert
  • 315 Reviews
  • 321 Helpful
September 17, 2013

Creepiest museum ever. World's largest colon is on display (you'll wonder how it got so big..), as well as tons of siamese twins, loads of gross things floating in jars, and plenty of skulls. Be sure to eat lunch AFTER you visit!

8 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 5 Helpful
October 02, 2013

Grossest things I remember: 1) human leather. Seriously.
2) There was a skull, with scratch marks where the vertebrae around the throat area were. Sign read something along the lines of the guy attempting suicide by cutting his own throat, failing and living for 3 more years in an insane asylum before dying of complications
3) Largest human passed kidney stones. Ew.
All in all, this was my favorite museum of my whole trip.

5 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Edie Lane

  • Blogger
  • 21 Reviews
  • 29 Helpful
September 14, 2014
Rated 5.0

I've wanted to visit the Mütter Museum for some time, and it did not disappoint. It is a small museum, just two floors, but it is packed with exhibits. While the oddities are rather macabre and strange, they are treated with dignity and presented in an educational way. If you take your time and read the exhibits, you will definitely learn something you didn't know before, and the small size of the museum allows plenty of time for you to do this. There are even sections of Einstein's brain on display. Plus, there is a nice memorial garden, which is always open to the public. Overall, I would say this is something you shouldn't miss while in Philadelphia.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
December 06, 2013

This place is so amazing! It is very educational and most of the items they have have stories explaining them. They have Einstein's brain, fetal abnormalities, skeletons of people who suffered from giantisim and dwarfism, and a ton of other things. Plus if you have your student ID you get a discount.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
October 02, 2013

There is a haunted penitentiary very close to this museum.. make it a whole
creepy day

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Tim Balzer

  • 66 Reviews
  • 152 Helpful
October 01, 2014
Rated 5.0

This museum is utterly fascinating. And disgusting--but in a good way. It may not be for the squeamish, but is an eye-opening way to spend a couple of hours in Philadelphia.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
October 08, 2014
Rated 5.0

The Mutter museum is a very unique place to visit. A must see for anyone visiting Philadelphia.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Dana Newkirk

  • Road Warrior
  • 298 Reviews
  • 324 Helpful
September 25, 2014
Rated 4.0

So freaking awesome. Even if you're not into this kinds of stuff you'll still have a ton of fun and find a bunch of stuff that will both fascinate you and make you want to barf. The giant colon in particular is wonderfully disgusting.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
July 23, 2014
Rated 3.0

not that much to see. but it was pretty cool to go inside

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
July 21, 2014
Rated 3.0

It was interesting. There were bones, skulls, some organs and fetus's preserved. A little expensive for what it was. Just 2 small floors filled with mostly bones, and lots of reading for $15.

1 person found this review helpful

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The Mutter Museum

19 S 22nd Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
19103 USA


Closed Now
  • Sun - Sat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

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  • Independent
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Street Parking

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