Dittrick Medical History Center - The Dainty Squid

Dittrick Medical History Center

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Recently it came to my attention there was a museum I'd reeeeally enjoy right under my nose, Dittrick Medical Center. I think a reader might have mentioned it to me a year or so ago, before I moved to Cleveland and I bookmarked it as something to visit in the future but forgot about it completely until my pal, Jason, invited me to visit with him and a group of friends. My first visit was short but I was instantly enthralled. I immediately knew I'd have to head back for a more thorough visit and to take some photos.

The permanent exhibits at the museum feature medical instrument collections to document the development of medicine. You've heard of the Mutter Museum, correct? Well it's similar in a sense except instead of specimens, it's the tools. There are stethoscopes (pictured in this post) as well as a handful of other diagnostic instruments in their various different stages of evolution. There are also a few period rooms including a 1870's doctor's office, a 1900 pharmacy, and a 1930's doctor's office.

In another gallery adjacent to the main Dittrick Museum gallery is The Percy Skuy Collection of Contraception Through the Ages. There's a wide range of contraception items, prototypes, manufacturing devices, and literature. With over 800 items, it's one the of the world's largest collections of contraceptive devices. One of my favorites sections was the folklore and oddities case which includes a handful of outlandish-seeming contraceptive practices. In the museums collection are a mule's earwax, weasel's testicles, and a bone taken from the right side of an all black cat.
It's a relatively small museum, I'd say it'd take the average person around an hour, if that, to check out. Seeing as admission is free, yes FREE, there is really no excuse not to visit! It's absolutely worth a peek!

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18 thoughts

  1. What an amazing little place! AND it's free?! That's awesome! I love the nurse uniform!

  2. This place looks incredible! I had no idea it existed.. adding it to the list :)

  3. Glad you had fun! Check your P.O. box for a little token... if you liked this museum then I was right about the package finding a good home with you! I'll definitely visit this museum if I'm ever up there!

  4. Wow! The museum is really cool I wish we had stuff like that around here. I will have to keep that in mind if I'm ever near Cleveland! It's looking like a pretty sweet city.

  5. So awesome! You'd love the Mutter Museum in PA if you haven't been.

  6. Beautiful and kind of eerie in a historical way. Sounds awesome!

  7. I am very tempted to check this place out when I visit my boyfriend's family in Cleveland this Christmas! We're definitely going to need to find indoor activities, and this is right up my alley. Thanks for the rec!


  8. These are so fascinating! I used to want to be a doctor, so this kind of stuff still intrigues me. Would love to visit the Mutter Museum someday.


  9. That looks like such a cool place and I can't believe it's free! All the old medical tools are so intriguing.

  10. Very cool ... love the old uniform!

  11. Fascinating! Some of those IUDs are HORRIFYING. How far we've come...

  12. This looks like such a cool place!!

  13. what the heck! we visited cleveland in october, how did i miss this place? I can't believe it isn't on the roadside america app??

    1. It is totally strange it's not on Roadside America!

  14. I love the Dittrick, I actually did my Master's practicum for library school this past summer there in their archives. There's so much cool stuff in that museum on display and off. If you ever have a chance, I think they allow you to make appointments to see items in their rare books room (they have incunabulas and lots of other cool old books!). My favorite story from my practicum experience is that I was going through boxes of papers, and I found a bag of human hearts! Even the archivist there wasn't 100% positive if they were actual preserved hearts (they were the belongings of a cardiologist), or if they were made of wax! So cool!

  15. One of my favorites sections was the folklore and oddities case which includes a handful of outlandish-seeming contraceptive practices. gel positioner

  16. Came to this post from your Cleveland one.. This is awesome! There is a medical oddities museum in Philly I've been wanting to go to but haven't. I collect old surgical books, I have quite a few now... About ten or so, my oldest is from the 1870s. Please tell me you've seen the tv show The Knick?!


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