KDL Recommends > Staff Picks > January 2013
Mutter Museum Historic Medical Photographs
Title: Mutter Museum Historic Medical Photographs
Author: College of Physicians of Philadelphia
So if you’re thinking to yourself, “Self, I really wish I had a gigantic coffee-table book of sepia photos of people with cannon-ball-related war wounds and hideous eyeball cysts,” then DO I HAVE THE BOOK FOR YOU! Mütter Museum: Historic Medical Photographs is a fantastically interesting book of medical pictures taken just as photography was becoming a Thing. Plastic surgery was just becoming a Thing at the same time, along with a lot of other surgical techniques that the book documents. And as an added bonus, it shows how early photographers tried to model their images—no matter how horrible—on famous painting poses. Which I thought was fascinating. It’s a holiday treat for
–Monica at KDL’s Wyoming branch
The first book on the Mütter Museum contain artful images of the museum’s fascinating exhibits shot by contemporary fine art photographers. Here, the focus is on the museum’s archive of rare historic photographs, most of which have never been seen by the public. Featured are poignant, aesthetically accomplished works ranging from Civil War photographs showing injury and recovery, to the ravages of diseases not yet conquered in the 19th century, to pathological anomalies, to psychological disorders. Many were taken by talented photographers between the 1860s and the 1940s as records for physicians to share among colleagues and to track patients’ conditions, and demonstrate various techniques used in medical photography including the daguerreotype, micrography, X ray, and traditional portrait-style photography. As visual documents of what humans endured in the face of limited medical knowledge, these extraordinary and haunting photographs demonstrate how far medicine has advanced.