Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sponsor a skull

My favorite Mütter Museum, part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, U.S., has launched a fundraising campaign. The collection of 139 skulls they purchased from Viennese anatomist Joseph Hyrtl in 1874 for 6,410 Austrian thalers (about $4,800 at the time) is in need of conservation. By adopting a skull for an annual subscription of $200, your name will appear on a small plaque next to it. The skull of your choice will be cleaned, conserved, and remounted – important because the original cast-iron mounts are transmitting vibrations caused by visitors walking past the cases and damaging the contents. Each of the skulls has a story: a Moravian shoemaker's apprentice who killed himself out of remorse at the age of 17, a Tyrolean maidservant who died of meningitis, a Hungarian soldier who died of pneumonia, a Viennese prostitute, a notorious Thai criminal, and a tightrope walker who broke his neck. The skulls were originally obtained from poorhouses and prisons, and in one case from a graverobber. While some of the standouts have already been chosen, there are roughly 100 skulls still awaiting adoption...


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