Corpses, Anatomical Models, Bullet Wounds, and Paintings

Death, disease, tumors, and pustules peppered my family’s dinner conversation as I grew up.

“Pass the salt,” my parents said, as well as: “you wouldn’t believe what I found inside a body today.”

And also: “honey, never go into medicine.”

Disease01

I only dabble in the macabre on weekends.

My latest morbid jaunt was the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Maryland.

Disease02

The museum was chock-full of samples, specimens, illustrations, replicas, prototypes, and tools. The most beautiful and horrible things hopscotched across the line between medicine and torture.

Life-sized dolls that look like diseased humans.

Flash cards of skin lesions.

Orderly rows of scissors, saws, syringes, and knives.

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Don’t forget tidy kits for exsanguination.

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I didn’t become a doctor, but I have a stomach of steel.

Bring on the corpses.

Sketchbook Pages from the National Museum of the American Indian

Imagine two kids on the playground: a hippie kid, and a big, mean kid in boat shoes named Chet.

The hippie kid is doing fine in school until Chet transfers in. Chet kicks the crap out of the hippie kid, kills his family, and lights his house on fire.

If you’re thinking Chet sounds unkind, welcome to American history. Take a seat. Chet does plenty more for hundreds of years.

The United States has apologetically carved out a space dedicated to the hippie kid. The National Museum of the American Indian is a smooth, striking building in muted tones that nestles in with the other Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. The exterior has no angles.

Native-American-Museum

I find its blobbiness appealing. I’m sure someone bitched about it, though. People always hate cool architecture.

Inside the museum, there are a variety of exhibits, including the Treaty exhibit, which details “the diplomacy, promises, and betrayals involved in two hundred years of treaty-making between the United States and Native Nations, as one side sought to own the riches of North America and the other struggled to hold on to its homelands and ways of life.”

The extensive sadness of the Treaty exhibit cannot be overstated.

However, there were also tons of exhibits that were charming. My favorites were the ones with artifacts.

I love artifacts. 

I could draw artifacts all day.

NA-Museum

 

My favorite artifacts are masks.

And my favorite masks were the Inti Raymi Festival masks (drawn on bottom right). They look just like Guy Fawkes masks. (Or, as my mom called them, “the masks those hackers use.”)

GuyFawkes

Going to one of these Peruvian festivals has just been placed onto my bucket list!

Overall, I recommend this museum. There is a tinge of sadness associated with it, due to the obvious; but the overall feeling is celebratory, historical, and hopeful.