Bones, Books & Bell Jars: Photographing the Collection of the Mutter Museum




Bones, Books & Bell Jars, a new photography book by fine art photographer Andrea Baldeck, offers a contemporary fusion of art and medicine, recalling an era when artists and physicians collaborated to educate aspiring medical students and share information with other medical practitioners. Baldeck was given free rein to mine the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s vast collection of pathological specimens, anatomical models, surgical instruments, illustrated textbooks, and other 19th-Century artifacts, to create her “cabinet of wonders”-inspired still-life photographs.

Andrea Baldeck used a Hasselblad film camera to capture astonishing images of a very unique museum collection. This is a still-life photographer's dream assignment, where she was able to wend her way with a sense of wonderment through the off-limits hallways and cabinets that are closed to the public. She shares her own aesthetic pleasure from a uniquely informed perspective: two decades earlier, she left the operating room and a career as an internist and anesthesiologist to enter the darkroom as a photographer.

“Behind the scenes…in locked rooms ranging from basement to attic, dwell a trove of artifacts, specimens, and texts,” writes Baldeck in the introduction. “To gain access to these is a singular privilege, a journey through time and across a continuum of the healing arts…. What follows is an experiential account of… keeping company with the past… to produce still-life photographs that reflect on the roles of art and science in documenting the history of medicine.”

Baldeck will share her images and commentary on this special project as well as give insight to how you, too, can access places and things to photograph that are normally closed to the general public. 

For a preview and more information, visit:

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest professional medical organization in the country, was founded in 1787 when twenty-four physicians gathered “to advance the science of medicine and to thereby lessen human misery.” Throughout its history, the College has provided a place for both medical professionals and the general public to learn about medicine as both a science and as an art. The College is home to the Historical Medical Library and the Mütter Museum, America’s finest museum of medical history, which displays its beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments in a 19th-Century setting. 

For more information visit: