Those of you who know of the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia will be interested in a communication posted on the Caduceus-L forum on the Internet on 13 September 1996. The author is Matt Baggott, Research Associate, Drug Dependence Research Center, Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, University of California, San Francisco. He begins:
As many of you may know, the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (founded in 1849) is a wonderful medical history museum. Its collection includes hundreds of fluid-preserved anatomical and pathological specimens, dried cadavers, antique medical instruments, reproductions of various pathologies in wax, paper mache, and plastic, portraits, and more.
Although I do not fully understand the politics of the situation, there seems to be reason for concern about the Mutter Museum's future. Laura Lindgren, who had directed the production of the Mutter Museum Calendars, recently sent out a letter explaining that the calendar project had been cancelled... The award-winning calendar included the work of many excellent photographers and was produced entirely on a volunteer basis (thus earning the College an estimated $10,000/yr). The year after the first calendar was published, museum attendance increased three-fold. Like the museum, the calendar is quirky, beautiful, and fascinating. I am saddened to see it go.
However, the calendar's cancellation wouldn't be significant if it didn't signal other, more troubling, trends. Apparently there is a new administration at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia who feels that the calendar "is an outdated reflection of who we are"...
It seems that the new administration wants to remake the College of Physicians into a source of modern healthcare information and therefore is trying to de-emphasize the 'dark' and unusual character of the Museum...
I hope that all of you who share my interest in medical and scientific history will take the time to express concern over the changes taking place at the Museum. Please write to Dr. Albert Fishman, President of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA.
hmm Newsletter readers who would like the full transcript of this very long communication should contact the Newsletter editor for a copy.