Our Fair City: Surgical Sciences Museum

One of my favorite museums in Chicago is small, and you wouldn't necessarily stumble upon it unless you knew what you were looking for. Set in an old mansion, the International Museum of Surgical Science is a hidden gem. It's set overlooking Lake Michigan, and has four floors of gorgeous architectural details. Medical artifacts, apparatus, and instruments comprise most of the museum’s collections. 

My favorite room is the Thorek Library & Rare Manuscripts Collection. From the cozy fireplace to the gorgeous candelabras, this room makes me want to spend hours with a book. There's a long communal table for reading, writing, researching. There are sections of rare books that are wrapped in white fabric to keep them from deteriorating over time. Off of the library is the Halls of Immortals, which features sculptures of notable figures that have contributed to medicine and science. 

It was here that I saw an actual iron lung. I have seen them before on TV. I have a vivid memory of my dad watching the History Channel, and a segment showed old footage of an ill person inside the iron lung. The most recent use was to treat polio patients with paralyzed lungs in the 1940's - 1960's. I remember thinking, how archaic, and almost mad-scientist this machinery seems. But at the time, it was modern medicine. If you think about it, it wasn't that long ago.

I found this museum how I find all of my favorite, strange and unique places, Atlas Obscura. When I was visiting Chicago for my job interview, naturally, I consulted Atlas Obscura and found IMSS. It's my go-to guide when traveling. Users can submit favorite finds like the wrecked plane in Iceland, or an opera house turned book-store. It helped me find some of the most interesting museums when we visited Paris, like the Musee Fragonard. It was that trip that really sparked my love for natural history. And now, years later, I'm working in a natural history museum! You can see my profile here which shows places I've been when traveling, places I want to go, and places that I submitted to the site, like Splendid China!


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