Mutter Museum: A Complete Guide

The Mutter Museum has been established inside the College of Medicine of Philadelphia‘s administrative building. The museum occupies two storeys and is tucked into a nook of the College structure. The environment is historic, there are some tight corners, and it can get busy. Philadelphia’s uniqueness is the best feature of the city. There are things to view in Philadelphia that you can’t see anywhere else since it has been a significant American city for centuries, where so many momentous events have occurred and so many great individuals have lived. This museum’s ability to show both how far the medical practice has advanced and how some things haven’t changed is among its most intriguing features. 

History of Mutter Museum

In order to advance the principles of the medical profession, a professional association for physicians called the College of Physicians was established in 1787. Thomas Mütter, a physician in Philadelphia, gave the College of Physicians of Philadelphia his personal collection of bones, plaster casts, medical illustrations, and other pathological artifacts in 1858. His donation of specimens and $30,000 was intended to build a museum for use in medical research and instruction. More than 25,000 objects are now kept in the museum!

The College is divided into two main sections: the Mütter Museum, which is devoted to medical history, and a medical library that recently opened its weekends to the public. It bears Dr Thomas Dent Mütter’s name. The Mütter Museum, which is considered to be the best medical history museum in America, is housed in a 19th-century “cabinet museum” and exhibits its exquisitely maintained collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical equipment. The museum assists the general public in appreciating the history of disease diagnosis and treatment as well as the mysteries and beauty of the human body.

Things that you can find here

Skulls,  a fragment of Einstein’s mind, a conjoined twins model, and even a dried-out colon, all come from the collection that is on exhibit. Although human health isn’t often aesthetically pleasing (notice the wet tumor specimens), it’s all available for inspection. You’ll hear lots of “kicks and giggles” from other museum visitors who are enthralled by the cases since it’s almost always fascinating and frequently repulsive.

The Mutter Museum’s extensive collection of medical oddities includes the tallest skeleton on exhibit in America (7’6″). It is a wax cast of a woman with a horn growing out of her skull. There you will also find the death cast of Chang and Eng, the original “Siamese Twins,” whose autopsy was carried out in the museum. With such strange and intriguing exhibits, the Museum started to pique people’s interest outside of the medical community. Currently, the museum has over 60,000 annual visitors, the majority of whom are not involved in medical research.

With tens of thousands of items, the collection’s size can be overwhelming. The objects that were formerly owned by some extremely famous people are perhaps the most intriguing. John Marshal is a well-known former Chief Judge of the Supreme Court. He has his bladder stones on exhibit. Visitors can view a cancerous tumor that was excised from President Grover Cleveland’s hard plate. Even the actual brains of Albert Einstein himself are available for you to examine!


The Museum’s first structure, which was situated on Locust and 13th Streets, was finished in 1863. The Museum moved with its original cases when The College of Medicine erected its new facility at 19 South 22nd Street in 1909. 

The 30th Street station, which is accessible by subway, trolley, regional rail, and even Amtrak, is only a 10-minute walk from the Mütter Museum. Metered on-street parking is available close to the museum, and there are also a few adjacent parking garages, one of which is on 21st Street just behind the museum.

The Mütter is ranked as one of the best places to bring a date, either due to the memento mori motif or the horrible contents of some of the damp specimens. Couples, families, and visitors are all common sights.

More about Mutter Museum

In a setting like this, you can either spend more time wondering what it must have been like to undergo surgery during the Civil War (hint: don’t think about it) or you can move through and get a solid sense of the collection. Be sure to visit the College’s Medical Library up top if you’re in town on the weekend. Their collection of rare and priceless books and printed materials, which were just recently made available to the public, will pique your interest.

The Mütter Museum also has some of America’s greatest villains, so it’s not simply filled with the remains of patriots and heroes. A sample of tissue from the thorax of John Wilkes Booth, the man who killed Abraham Lincoln, is on display in the museum. Meanwhile, a portion of the brain of another presidential murderer, Charles J. Guiteau, who killed President James A. Garfield, is on exhibit. Visitors to our Ghosts of ’76 Ghost Tour should particularly enjoy the eerie Mütter Museum. Our evening haunted history tour, which combines elements of both history and horror, reveals the horrifying truths behind some of Philadelphia’s most significant historic sites, homes, and cemeteries.

You should be ready to experience a tug on your heartstrings when visiting the Mütter Museum. All of these samples were taken from real people, many of whom had rare diseases that were so dreadful they could not even be imagined. The skeleton of Harry Raymond Eastlack, a person who endured the dreadful disease fibrodysplasia ossificans progressive, in which the body starts converting muscles and tendons into bone materials, is on display at the Mütter Museum. His entire body had become fused in bone by the time of his death at age 39, making him a prisoner of his own body.

Former museum director Gretchen Wordern said, “Although their bodies may be ugly, there is a dreadful beauty in the spirits of those forced to bear these ailments,” which is perhaps the best way to put it. Undoubtedly, going to the Mütter Museum is a truly distinctively Philadelphian experience. The infamous “Soap Woman,” whose body was excavated in Philadelphia in 1875, as well as a unique collection of 139 human skulls, are two must-see exhibits.

Cover Image Source: Flickr