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7 unusual medical museums

By: Matt Hickman on Oct. 14, 2011, 9 a.m.
skull with shotgun shell hole

Photo: National Museum of Health and Medicine

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National Museum of Health and Medicine

Location: Washington (relocating to Silver Spring, Md.)

Specialty: Civil war injuries, microscopes and fetuses in formaldehyde

Gift shop grotesquerie: Plush Giant Microbes (isn’t toxoplasmosis just adorable?!)

Despite the stuffy, bureaucratic name and (former) off-the-Mall location at Washington’s now defunct Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the National Museum of Health and Medicine is, at heart, a good, old-fashioned medical oddity exhibition. Here’s hoping that the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology didn’t forget to pack the museum’s greatest — and most gruesome — treasures for the big move to Fort Detrick-Forest Glen in Silver Spring: Bone fragments of Abraham Lincoln’s skull (along with the bullet that killed him), a massive, stomach-shaped hairball extracted from a 12-year-old girl, the mummified head of a girl embalmed with arsenic, graphic images of both Civil War injuries and venereal diseases, and pickled body parts, deformed fetuses and nightmare-inducing wax anatomical models aplenty. Pictured here is a skull showing "Effects of Canister Shot in the Civil War."