The Dittrick Museum of Medical History, part of Case Western University, looks like your typical college library; an older building with study rooms, bookshelves, and regal furnishings. The museum, known for its unorthodox collections on the progress of medical history, is one-of-a-kind.
Upon first glance the amputating set from 1861 and pictures of medical students posing with human cadavers can be unnerving and resemble a scene from The Twilight Zone. I urge visitors to focus on the stories behind the unfamiliar tools and uncomfortable images because there is much perspective to gain.
The Dittrick is not just for aspiring doctors or science junkies. Though it was started by doctors in the late 19th century to maintain medical artifacts and preserve the medical history of Cleveland, its mission today is to adopt a universal view on public health and policy.
My personal favorite, “A History of Contraception Through The Ages,” is more than just a collection of old, intimidating, steel contraception tools. Sprinkled with stories of progressive doctors and medical advancements in birth control, it highlights the human element in our evolution as individuals and a society, ultimately allowing us to understand what choices we made based on the options we had.
I left The Dittrick very thankful for modern medicine. Note: if science is your cup of tea, allow yourself some extra time – there’s a lot to see and read.
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