In 1787, a group of physicians created a collegiate society to better serve the public.

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is not an academic organization, as the name suggests, but a not-for-profit educational and cultural institution. It’s mission is to advance the cause of health while upholding the ideals and heritage of medicine.

The college is home to the Mütter Museum, a museum of medical history, open to the public.

“The Mütter Museum displays its beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models and medical instruments in a 19th-century ‘cabinet museum’ setting,” said Natalie Vogel Howard, director of communications. “The museum helps the public understand the mysteries and beauty of the human body and to appreciate the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.”

The Mütter Museum exhibit
Cholera wet specimens, The Mütter Museum, Philadelphia, Pa.
Credit: The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Marcy Engleman, museum educator, said groups can expect to see many medical specimens on display, ranging from the skeleton of a 7’6” giant to the Soap Lady to Einstein’s brain.

Docents lead group tours, which typically last about 45 minutes

In addition to group tours, the museum offers classes for groups, called Mütter Lessons. These lessons focus on a wide variety of topics that tie in with the collection.

“The museum is a fascinating and unique place for our guests to learn all about the human body,” Engelman said.

The collection began in 1858 as a donation from College Fellow Thomas Dent Mütter, M.D., who was determined to improve and reform medical education.

The museum is currently developing its next major exhibition, “Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918–19 in Philadelphia.” The exhibition opens in October, in commemoration of the centennial of the devastating medical event that plagued Philadelphia in the early 20th century.

“Spit Spreads Death” will integrate science, history, art and personal narratives while exploring contagion, fear of infection, compassion for fellow citizens and the behavior of a population under extreme stress.

For more information on The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, call 215-399-2262 or go to