Hyrtl Skull Collection

Hyrtl Skull Collection

Hello everybody! How is everyone? I don’t know about your school, but my school is going through Keystones testing week. Since I passed last year’s Keystones (thank goodness!) I have four days off and I have no plans at all. If you’re someone like me who has no plans during vacation, maybe you should consider going to the Mütter Museum! Today I will be talking about the Mütter Museum’s skull collection. It’s been a while since I’ve written about the Mütter Museum. It is the home of the famous wall of skulls and the Soap Lady. I’ve written a bit about both the skulls and the Soap Lady. Today, I want to go in depth about the skull collection, more specifically, the Hyrtl Skull Collection.

How did the museum collect all 139 human skulls? No, they did not go on a killing spree to collect these skulls. (Ladies and gentlemen, that was a horrible attempt on making a joke.)

They were donated by a Viennese anatomist Joseph Hyrtl. Hyrtl’s initial purpose for these skulls was to study them to show other people the anatomy of Caucasians of Europe. He wanted to disprove phrenologists’ hypothesis that cranial features show intelligence and that different races have different anatomies.

When I walked in to the museum for the first time, the first thing I saw was this. I was surprised by how many skulls the museum has! I read every one of the little tags below the skulls and each skull had a different story. One skull committed suicide using Potassium Cyanide. Since I am learning chemistry this year and I want to pursue a career in that field, these types of  things really interest me. You can see the descriptions for all of these skulls here: http://www.collegeofphysicians.org/assets/pdfs/SOSskullcatalog.pdf

Right now, the museum is holding a campaign called the Save Our Skulls campaign. They want to preserve the skulls so many more generations can learn from this collection. You can “adopt” your own skull and save the collection by donating.

For more info, watch this informational Youtube video HERE or visit their website HERE if you want to support this campaign!

READY TO VISIT the Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia? Check out the Mütter Museum profile page for the hours you can use your STAMP pass!

This post was written by Sharon Shania, a STAMP Teen Council member. Sharon attends The Preperatory Charter School of Mathematics, Science, Technology & Careers.