Monday, July 6, 2009

Unveiling at Mutter Museum

There have been so many landscape-related happenings lately, I totally forgot to mention a significant portrait event in early 2009. These days there are too many blogs, Facebook posts, and newsletters for an absent-minded, un-tech-savvy person like me to keep up with! I know, I shouldn't be making excuses, but it's all too true.

On January 9th, 2009, the Philadelphia College of Physicians (which houses the famous Mutter Museum of medical artifacts) hosted a party to celebrate their 150th anniversary. I had been asked to paint the portrait of the museum's former director, Gretchen Worden. It is a posthumous portrait of a dynamic, humorous, and compassionate woman who devoted her career to the museum. You may have seen her on the David Letterman Show; she appeared on the show three times over the course of several years.

The Mutter Museum is a medical museum founded by Thomas Dent Mutter in the 19th century with the donation of his collection. The collection, studied by medical students of the day, includes human skulls and skeletons; preserved body parts showing evidence of various diseases, conditions and abnormalities; and old medical instruments. A plaster cast of Chang and Eng, the original Siamese twins, resides there. The purpose of the museum is to preserve knowledge of, and to educate the public about, human pathology and medical history. Personally I have always found the museum to be a fascinating place, and I was thrilled to be asked to paint its director.

In the background of the portrait is the skeleton of a 7' 6" giant and the skeleton of a 3' 6" achondroplastic dwarf. Ms. Worden is holding a lithotrite, an antique instrument used to crush bladder stones!