Updated: Wednesday, 29 Jun 2011, 7:31 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 30 Jun 2011, 5:06 AM EDT
New Haven, Conn. (WTNH) - It's perhaps one of the most unique museums you'll ever visit, and perhaps a bit creepy. After all, who would collect hundreds and hundreds of human brains.
"It's wild, it's wondrous and it's beautiful all at the same time," says Terry Dagradi, curator of the Cushing Center at the Yale School of Medicine.
"It's an amazing space," she said. "It has a feeling of sacredness to it."
There are about 420 human brains in the collection from patients of Dr. Harvey Cushing, known as the founding father of neurosurgery.
"I've had a couple people walk in and walk out," Dagradi said. "Sometimes people are a little shocked about what they see, but most like to wonder. It's like, wow, that's amazing."
Cushing, who graduated from Yale in 1891, returned to the School of Medicine in 1933. These specimens were part of Cushing's meticulous research. Many show tumors and abnormalities that plagued their owners.
Some examples date back to 1902. But they haven't always been on display. They were forgotten in a dark basement for years.
"By the '60s they fell in to disinterest," Dagradi said. "By the '70s they ended up in the what we call the sub-basement of the medical school and the brain room."
In 2010, that all changed when a special room was built in Yale's Medical Library basement. It's now a showcase for a priceless collection that includes thousands of photos, first edition books and early medical tools.
"I've seen and heard 'amazing' used so many times, from small children to alumni who are back here after 60 years."
And it's their wonder and curiosity that will promote learning for years to come.
For more information on the Chushing Center and when you can take a tour visit Yale.edu