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Book and Media Reviews
November 21, 2012

Bones Books & Bell Jars: Photographs of the Mütter Museum Collection

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

Author Affiliation: Department of Life Science, John A. Logan College, Carterville, Illinois (tmiksanek@aol.com).

JAMA. 2012;308(19):2039-2040. doi:10.1001/jama.308.19.2039

Bones Books & Bell Jars is a gorgeous photographic tour of the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia as well as a creative tour de force. The flavor of the book is reverential, historical, and on occasion a tad spooky. Think Twilight Zone meets Antiques Roadshow. The photography is imaginative. The use of only black-and-white photographs imparts a stark, retro look to the book. Yet mysteriously the work comes alive, more akin to a living documentary than a static collection of still life photographs. Some of the pictures are haunting—a wax model (moulage) of a child's face studded with molluscum contagiosum, a disarticulated fetal skeleton, and an anencephalic fetus, for example.

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