View the Brains at the Cushing Center, Yale Medical Library

It’s strange, gruesome, and an instrumental piece of medical history. The Cushing Center in Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale University [333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06510] is an absolutely fascinating place to explore.

Note that due to the nature of this science, there are materials inside the center that may be deemed upsetting to some. However for those with the stomach and curiosity for such things is a treasure trove of knowledge within.

A Yale graduate, Harvey Cushing, was the father of neurosurgery. His meticulous nature of documenting patients created a collection called the Cushing Brain Tumor registry with over 2,200 case studies.

It’s a stunning space and extremely interactive. From Youtube videos, to ancient literature, and eerie relevant art – the mixed media captures all kinds of attention.

In the shelves of the basement exhibit there are whole brain specimens in vintage jars, tools of the trade, sketches,

photographs, and hand written notes from the 1800s through 1930s – a history of neurological medicine.

Open the drawers to discover any range of things from primitive surgical tools, but be aware of more morbid objects possibly upsetting, such as fetal skulls at various stages of development.

Artifacts such as Cushing’s lab coat, a cast of his hand,

and a picture of him and famed physiologist Ivan Pavlov are on display. Cushing cared about his patients and kept in touch with them after procedures ended. Looking through his case study book was haunting.

The photographs of patients that line the walls show pain, resilience, and pure emotion. If you’re with younger people, there are worksheets which help lighten the nature of the experience.

Good to know:

+Register at the Circulation Desk to obtain a Proxy Card

+Open as late as 8PM on many nights

+Five tours offered each week

+Exhibit is free

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