When a forgotten graveyard was unearthed at a Philadelphia construction site, no city agency would step in. The Mütter Institute came to the rescue, but now it needs the public’s help.
Sabrina Small and Caitlin McCormack explore the life and decay of the human body in sculptural fiber art at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.
Robbers, prostitutes, and fallen tightrope walkers: the craniums in the Hyrtl Skull Collection in the Mütter Museum at College of Physicians of Philadelphia are fractured remains of imperfect lives.
Like his anatomist peers, 18th-century Dutch scientist Frederik Ruysch preserved human and animal specimens for study, either dried or in jars.
Skin from the thigh of an unfortunate Philadelphia woman felled by a parasitic infection delicately lines the spines of three books in the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
Many studies of anatomy and the beauty of the human body are all about symmetry and proportions, a sort of endless steamrolling of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” through art history. Yet that barely explores the incredible diversity of human forms. It’s the “variant body” that artist Riva Lehrer examines in teaching anatomy at the Art Institute of Chicago and in her series of portraits responding to her own disability, as well as to anyone who lives in a body that feels outside what’s perceived as “normal.”
Sometimes art happens by accident, like teenage pregnancy. On occasion the mishap can be fortuitous.