Hideous Objects Become Museum Art

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As far back as 1849, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia had a collection of "pathological specimens" for its members to view.

But six years later, when Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter retired and donated his vast private collection of diseased tissue, the college earned a national reputation, and now boasts more than 900 preserved specimens.

Among the most popular attractions: The shared liver of the world-famous conjoined twins Chang and Eng, who were billed internationally as "Siamese twins."

How did the sideshow stars end their lives as a museum attraction? In 1874, doctors from the college performed the autopsy on Chang and Eng and were allowed to keep the curious organ.

The Most Unusual Museum — Period: You probably don't need to visit Maryland's Museum of Menstruation more than once a month, where you'll find the midriffs of mannequins suspended from the ceiling, modeling feminine hygiene products from around the world, some more than 100 years old.

The displays of mid-20th-century hygiene equipment from the old Soviet Union are said to be barbaric enough to convince any woman of the virtues of capitalism.

Among the treasures: A 1914 Sears catalog advertising a rubber "sanitary apron" along with displays illustrating the evolution of Kotex sanitary napkins, developed from surgical bandages by World War II Army nurses.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Museum of Menstruation (or MOM, as it's called) is its founder and curator — Harry Finley, a 60-year-old bachelor who works for the Pentagon as a graphic designer.

Finley runs the museum from his basement and says he just wants to demystify and remove the stigma from feminine hygiene.

A Smithsonian researcher has praised his collection as a valuable piece of pop culture, and so has others. But Finley has his critics, including Sassy magazine, which told him, "Stick to jock itch products, buddy."

Quacks Can't Duck this Exhibit: Out of shape? No problem. Just scrub away those pesky excess inches with some weight-loss soap. Of course, you'll want a foot-powered breast pump to put those inches back where they belong.