8. Dittrick Museum of Medical History
One of the quirkiest museums in America is located inside Case Western University in the University Circle area. The Dittrick Museum of Medical History has everything for those fascinated in this kind of thing – Civil War-era amputating kits (so many, they are displayed in a standing glass exhibition case), the world’s largest collection of historic contraceptives, a 1555 edition of an influential book on human anatomy, medical furniture, and more.
Each area of inquiry has a full range of artifacts: two cases of stethoscopes, one case of blood pressure monitors. There are early radiology machines, electrocardiograph machines, an iron lung machine. The contraceptive gallery shows much more than devices however, but traces the history of birth control societally and medicinally, including historical medical advice literature and mid-19th century toilets. The collection clearly shows the social and moral pendulum swing that has accompanied the subject of birth control in America.
Chief Curator James Edmonson tells us that later this year touch screens will arrive to the museum, though “it’s not that we want technology to overwhelm the real stuff that we have to see and enjoy, but we realized, you have to keep up with the trends or you’ll be left in the dust, so we got a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities.”
The Dittrick Museum is featured in the book Medical Museums: Past, Present and Future. While you’re visiting, also don’t miss the home of the Cleveland Orchestra. There’s a ground level entrance on Euclid Avenue that was once an entry way for automobiles. Concertgoers were once dropped off directly inside the building.
The Dittrick Museum is located at 11000 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 44106.