Looking for the malignant tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland’s mouth? Or the conjoined liver from the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker? Look no further than the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Skip the haunted houses and corn maizes this Halloween season. If you really want to freak out the family, tour the Museum’s impressive galleries of real skeletons, Hyrtl skulls, and sadistic looking Victorian medical tools. Not to mention the nine-foot-long human colon that contained over 40 pounds of fecal matter when removed from the remains of a man who appeared in a sideshow act called the Human Balloon. You won’t want to eat after so instead visit the sui generis Museum Store. There really is something for everyone here: plush “Giant Microbes”, Conjoined Gingerbread Men Cookie Cutters, a “Spill Your Guts Out” journal, and a 5ml bottle of the Museum’s Ü Perfume–an unusual scent that evokes images of a dusty ancient library (balsams, leather and vanilla).
Philadelphia native and NEA-winning poet Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is writing a biography of Mütter Museum founder Thomas Dent Mutter, titled, Curiosity. It will be published in 2014 by Gotham Books. Aptowicz is the author of six books of poetry including the forthcoming The Year of No Mistakes (published by Write Bloody Publishing) and Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, published by Soft Skull Press.