St. Bart’s

100th Post(card) Giveaway! And St. Bart’s Pathology Museum

I’m sure you’re all dying to hear who won…I very scientifically assigned each of you a number based on the order in which you commented (excluding my own comments, of course), and put them into a random number generator…the winner is number 4, stinkjel!  Congrats, and I hope you enjoy your prize!

I’ve been blogging for just under a year, but I’m already up to my 100th post! I had to celebrate the occasion somehow, so I’m doing a giveaway.  As you may have guessed from the title, it will consist of a selection of postcards taken from my extensive collection, from places all over Europe and America, many of which I’ve blogged about.

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The cards pictured above are what you’ll be getting, and they’re all blank, so you can hang them up on your walls, or send them to your friends to confuse them by making them think you’re off visiting the Cork Butter Museum, or a Danish beach!  In case the postcards aren’t exciting enough, I’m including a special secret bonus prize along with them (though it’s not actually anything that thrilling, so maybe don’t get too excited.)!

The contest is open to everyone, and I’m happy to ship the postcards anywhere in the world.  To enter, simply leave a comment listing one of your favourite museums and/or travel destinations, or alternatively, somewhere you’d like to see me blog about.  If you don’t have a wordpress blog, be sure you enter in a valid email address so I have some way of contacting you.  Contest is open until Thursday, 20th February.  I’ll pick the winner using a random number generator, and announce who they are on Friday the 21st.  (Sorry I don’t have something more exciting to give away, but my budget is extremely limited at the moment!)

And now, so there’s actually some useful content in this landmark post as well, I’d like to tell you about St. Barts Pathology Museum, in London.  The museum is inside St. Bart’s Hospital (Sherlock fans will know it well as it’s the building Sherlock splats from…or not, as the case may be.  I hope you’ve all seen the new series by now!), and is only open to the public during special events (alas, I’ve never seen Benedict there, despite lots of looking, though there’s really nothing (save for the wet and dirty ground, and possibly good taste) to stop you posing in the same spot where he landed outside).  I’ve been there twice, once for a taxidermy workshop last year, and again last week for a lecture on Jack the Ripper’s victims.  Though the workshops usually cost 50 quid and up, the lectures are only around £6, come with a free glass of wine, and are usually about interesting medical, history, or horror related topics, so they’re probably your best ticket inside.

Doors open half an hour before events (typically at 6:30 for the evening lectures) to give attendees a chance to explore the museum. Because the museum’s collections pretty much entirely consist of human remains, no photography is allowed, but I’ll try to give you a rough idea of what’s inside.  Only the ground level exhibits are currently accessible, though I believe they’re trying to make the stairs and things safe so the public can go up to the upper levels within the next few years.  The contents are similar to what you’d find in the Hunterian and the Gordon Museum…perhaps a bit closer to the Gordon, as it is used as a learning resource for medical students.  Therefore, it’s not always the most user friendly to the general public, and many of the specimens don’t have proper captions, or just offer a short explanation full of medical terminology that is probably not that useful to the layperson. However, the “highlights” of the collection generally are well labelled, and there’s a few big posters of drawings explaining specific unpleasant conditions.

I find that the back wall has the best stuff, and the collections sort of get less gory (and therefore, less interesting) as you progress up to the front of the museum, but that’s just me.  The back wall has some nice mounted skeletons, including several of babies suffering from hydrocephaly.  My favourite case has to be the one full of things pulled out from inside people (yes, usually from inside the anus), like an anti-aircraft shell used by a man who had prolapses and hemorrhoids to hold everything in place, until one day it got stuck; and a slate pencil, which I think was swallowed, notable largely because Laura’s always using them to write poems mocking Miss Wilder or curl her “lunatic fringe” in Little Town on the Prairie.

Other objects of note within the museum are the liver that was deformed by constant tight corset lacing, and the rather impressive collection of tumours caused by “sweep’s cancer.”  There are really lots of neat bones, organs, tumours, and other body parts to see, so try to come check it out for yourself if you can.  The link at the start will take you to their events page, but here it is again if you don’t feel like scrolling back up.  There’s some cool-sounding lectures coming up in the next couple weeks, and then I believe they’re not having any more until next autumn, so book soon if you want to visit.  I will say that I was slightly disappointed in the lecture I just attended, because the title was misleading (it was called something to the effect of “Mary Kelly, the Ripper’s final victim), as I thought it would be very specific to Mary Kelly, when really it was just a general overview of Jack the Ripper, but it was still entertaining, and delivered by the leading Ripperologist Donald Rumbelow (and fortunately, Rumbelow doesn’t seem to buy into the wilder theories, which is what sometimes puts me off “Ripperology”).  Nonetheless, the museum is always worth seeing, and I do still plan to attend future events.

Good luck to everyone entering the giveaway (and I hope someone does enter, or this is going to get really embarrassing)!