Thursday, August 21, 2008

Popular Anatomy, 19th Century Style

It is, indeed, not such a collection as the timid would care to visit at midnight, and alone. Fancy the pale moonlight lighting up with a bluish tinge, the blanched skeletons and grinning skulls — the same moon that saw, in many a case, the death-blow given, or the bullet pierce. The thought is not a comforting one, and those fancies would not be calculated, at such a time, to inspire courage. But in broad daylight, with the sun shining outside, and brightening up, with its tinge of life and activity, the tessellated floor, with the noise and traffic of the street outside, and the hum and murmur of numerous clerks and attendants inside, even those of timid proclivities do not then hesitate to inspect closely and with curiosity the objects which, twelve hours later, when the building is dark and deserted, they would scarce care to approach.

Both the text (from a 19th Century journal) and image above are from a recent fascinating post about the history of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, back when it was called The Army Medical Museum and was housed in the Ford Theatre--yes, the same one which hosted the assasination of President Lincoln! Back then, it was a popular museum attracting throngs of respectable, middle-class victorians (see above). Check out the whole post (and see more images) on the always engrossing Bottled Monsters blog.

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