Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Museum's Odd and Rare Artifacts

Thanks to the Civil War Interactive Blog for alerting me to this story.

From the Oct. 21st Cecil Whig's "Army museum's oddities resettle in Silver Springs." AP.

The National Museum of Health and Medicine has the bullet that killed President Abraham Lincoln as well as some of his skull fragments along with a rather large collection of morbid objects.

In September, it moved from the former Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC, to new quarters in Silver Springs, Maryland, where it is outside a military base where a security clearance is not required to enter.

They have over 25 million objects, including a hairball from the stomach of a 12-year-old girl, the amputated leg from a man with elephantiasis. Also, there is a section of President Garfield's (Civil War veteran) spine that was pierced by assassin Charles Guiteau's gun as well as Guiteau's brain and partial skeleton.

The new place will be closing in January and reopen in July with it's largest-ever exhibit in honor of the institution's 150th anniversary since its founding in 1862. It has been located in ten different places since then.


In 1862, US Surgeon general William Hammons directed medical doctors in the field to collect "specimens of morbid anatomy" for study along with projectiles and foreign bodies.

One Civil War photo in their collection shows a huge pile of amputated legs stacked like firewood.

They also have the shattered bones of US Army Major general Daniel Sickle's lower right leg beside a 12-pound cannonball like the one that shattered his leg at the Battle of Gettysburg. I think I've heard tell that he would go to the center to visit his leg after the war.

Also in the collection are 2,000 microscopes and hundreds of thousands of brain segments at off-site warehouses.

Something Else to See in the DC Area. --Old B-Runner

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