Your kids will be ‘ew-ing,’ ‘oh-ing’ and ‘ah-ing’ as they view an iron lung, amputation saws and the "bone crusher," which was once used to break the bones of patients. All of these barbaric-looking instruments and more are housed at The International Museum of Surgical Science, 1524 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.
But the museum isn’t just tools of the trade; there are also sculptures that will be of interest to your inquisitive kids. One room houses the burial mask of Napoleon Bonaparte and a giant bust of Maurice "The Angel" Tillet, a professional wrestler who suffered from a rare pituitary over-development condition which caused his head and body to grow to epic proportions.
The apothecary is one of the museum’s most popular exhibits for families, according to Lynnea Smith, the museum’s event and special tours manager. The exhibit houses hundreds of colorful bottles and vials and has its own resident pharmacist. No, he’s not real but he does a fantastic job of explaining what a pharmacist of his time would do with all of the bottles of medicines.
Another popular part of the museum is the dentist’s office. It shows off some of the scarier items, says Smith. "It is interesting to see how dentistry has changed while other parts have remained the same."
Smith’s favorite room is the optical exhibit. This room has some pretty spectacular eye wear, which includes a pair of glasses Eskimos used to wear during snow storms to protect their eyes. The exhibit is filled with objects to look at and some that might "look" back at you, such as the glass eyes and holographic glasses.
The museum is more of a look, don’t touch kind of place, but the exhibits give parents the opportunity to explore the wonders of the medical industry as well as the human body. The museum suggests that children attending fifth grade and up should visit as there are a few murals and subject matters covered that are a little graphic for the younger set.
For more information visit www.imss.org, or call (312) 642-6502. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $8, $4 students and seniors.