If you’re having trouble finding the perfect gift for that one quirky friend on your list, nothing says “Happy Holidays!” like the restoration of a 19th century human skull. The Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia has created a sponsorship campaign for their collection of 139 skulls that have begun to deteriorate after 100 years of display, Reuters reports.
Originally collected by Viennese scientist Josef Hyrtl, the skulls were used to disprove the validity of phrenology, a Victorian pseudoscience that determined the personality characteristics of an individual based on the contours of their skull. While Hyrtl’s collection did fulfill its goal of debunking phrenology, many of the skulls were documented as having come from questionable sources.
The massive skull collection was originally used only for educational purposes — and still is — but the smiling wall has also become a cult favorite for oddities enthusiasts outside the medical realm.
The Save Our Skulls campaign allows individuals to pay $200 to help restore a skull, and can even choose the remains of a specific individual from a list online — like Stanislas Stara, a train soldier who died at the age of 43 from gunshot wounds. The sponsor receives a photo of the skull, a plaque, and will have their name displayed with their sponsored cranium in the museum for a year.
— Meredith Caraher (@Mereditheve)
(Photo via Mütter Museum/Facebook.)