Washington Post: Historic Human Remains Create Ethics Clash at Mütter Museum


Mutter Museum
Image and caption via the Washington Post.
Visitors look at a collection of skulls at the Mütter Museum.

Body parts from the 19th century exhibited at the Mütter Museum on 22nd Street in Center City have become the center of an ethics clash as they are being reexamined under the modern lens of medical consent, writes Maura Judkis for The Washington Post.

The Philadelphia museum has collected and displayed various historical medical implements, anatomical models, human skeletons, and body parts since 1863.

The issue that is causing the uproar is the way some of the bones were acquired. While some of the items come from contemporary donors, many were added at the time before medical consent had been codified.

In the 19th century, many doctors looking to learn about real bodies did so by claiming the remains of underprivileged groups, including enslaved people and Native Americans.

In late 2022, the museum’s leadership removed a popular YouTube series that featured stories and human remains from the collection.

However, current and former museum staff and some of its fans are worried that the next step could be the removal of some of the artifacts altogether. Over a dozen staff members have resigned in the last six months over these concerns.

Read more about the Mütter Museum in The Washington Post.


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