— Mu­seum of Hu­man Dis­ease

Cosmos - - Contents - — AN­DREW MASTER­SON

IF YOUR IDEA of a great day out is wan­der­ing around ex­am­in­ing dis­plays of in­fected or de­formed tis­sue, the Mu­seum of Hu­man Dis­ease at the Univer­sity of New South Wales in Syd­ney should be very high on your to-do list.

The mu­seum, sit­u­ated in the univer­sity’s school of med­i­cal sci­ences, con­tains more than 2,000 spec­i­mens – most of them or­gans re­moved ei­ther dur­ing op­er­a­tions on the liv­ing or au­top­sies on the dead.

Ad­mit­tedly not for the squea­mish, the mu­seum’s dis­plays per­mit a rare glimpse into the stark ac­tu­al­ity of in­fec­tious and non-in­fec­tious dis­eases. Ever won­dered what diph­the­ria and ty­phoid look like from the in­side? How about HIV? It’s all here, in her­met­i­cally sealed three­d­i­men­sional gory glory.

Many of the dis­plays serve as use­ful aids to un­der­stand­ing for med­i­cal stu­dents as well as ob­jects of en­joy­ably mor­bid cu­rios­ity to vis­i­tors. Some, how­ever, are just plain weird, such as a pre­served ter­atoma – a kind of ovary tu­mour that, in this in­stance, has sprouted its own hair and teeth.

Un­der the guid­ance of di­rec­tor Derek Wil­liamson, the mu­seum is open Mon­day to Fri­day, be­tween 9am and 4pm. Adult en­try is just $10. Mu­seum pol­icy re­quires all chil­dren un­der the age of 15 to be ac­com­pa­nied by an adult – which, given the grue­some na­ture of the ex­hibits, is prob­a­bly a very good idea in­deed.

Mu­seum of Hu­man Dis­ease Syd­ney, NSW

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