This 19th-century museum of curious and macabre medical mishaps is like walking through a Victorian horror movie. It is intensely, fascinatingly creepy. The squeamish should definitely stay away.
Some visitors, however—especially older teens—will be fascinated, possibly frightened, and definitely grossed out by the huge collection in this dimly lit, 19th-century building that feels straight out of "Harry Potter"—or, perhaps, "Young Frankenstein."
Starting with the wall of skulls that 19th century Viennese anatomist Joseph Hyrtl used to help debunk the bogus "science" of phrenology, a whopping 20,000 strange-to-creepy objects fill the exhibit spaces at this former College of Physicians (the oldest medical facility in the country, founded in 1787). It is a smorgasbord of the frighteningly strange and truly disturbing, and you might want to stop reading here if medical oddities turn your stomach.
OK, I warned you.
Prepare yourself for Grover Cleveland’s "secret tumor," a plaster cast of conjoined twins Chang and Eng (and their actual shared liver!), John Wilkes Booth’s thorax, a skeleton of a dwarf posed next to that of a giant, and slides containing slices of Einstein's brain. The 3D plaster wall chart of everything that can go wrong with an eyeball still gives me nightmares. Ditto the horrifying antique surgical instruments and 19th century wax models. Then there's the curiously preserved Soap Lady, the dried garland of gargantuan intestines stuffed with straw and hung from the ceiling, and jars upon jars of pickled human fetuses and fetal skeletons—including one with two heads. And if you ever wondered whether it was, indeed, possible to make leather and leather products out of... uh, never mind.
And yes, it is rented out for weddings. Mostly Goth couples. Not kidding.
(Note: If you are planning to visit the stellar Penn Museum across the river, ask about the combined ticket to save on admission to both.)