Monday, March 4, 2013

I'm a Fool, in Vienna

Ah hah! I assume the title drew you in. Aside from a photo, there isn't really much better than a good headline for getting readers. And some would argue everyone is a fool, in Vienna.
So now, if you're still here I'll explain this in another Vienna post. This is about the only "museum," aside from the Albertina, I went to while I was in Vienna -- The Fool's Tower or Narrenturm.
This place was pretty neat, but they had a few signs prohibiting photographs. From what I've seen lately, signs prohibiting photographs are merely a suggestion. A suggestion which can safely be ignored by any tourist, this isn't the rez. So, I decided to take the moniker "when in Rome, or Vienna as the case may be, do as the Romans do." Romans being tourists in this case, you get the idea. I didn't go bonkers through because my camera makes a lot of noise.
Anyway this is a round building built in 1784 to house mentally-ill people. I think if your German is pretty good you might be able to learn a lot by clicking this link. Or it might tell you that you are an idiot and need to be committed yourself. I don't know. There is no mention of where the toilet, train station or tram stop is in any of the first few sentences so my German was exhausted and I gave up.

And if you are going to build a round building why wouldn't you make it like a doughnut? I mean, it just seems silly to fill the inside of the building with rooms and useable space. I suppose building it like a doughnut allows for twice and many fifth-floor doors to nowhere.

A big round building from the late 1700s is a bit of a thrill, but it's pretty far from the nearest U-Bahn stop so you need another reason to visit it. Turns out they have just the thing for that.
As you may have read from the wikipedia link this building also houses a museum for anatomy and physiology. What that seems to translate to in this case is body parts and fetuses (anyone know the plural of fetus?) in jars of formaldehyde as well as wax molds that had been taken of a few hundred skin disorders and venereal diseases. I swear, if I never see another likeness of a prolapsed uterus I think I'll be just fine.
There was a room of nothing but lungs in jars. I am not kidding at all. Smoker's lungs, black lung lungs, about 300 tb lungs, mesothelioma lungs and on and on. I didn't realize doctors used to fill the holes made in lungs by tb with wax so less blood would be coughed up. I know it now.
So, for a whopping six euro you were treated to a guided tour, presumably lead by some student at the university wearing a lab coat, in English. That price also included the self-guided tour of the first floor. The guided tour was of the second floor.
I didn't take any photos during the tour of the second floor. I sure the guide would have told me not to had I tried. The guide was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic and I must say the whole deal was the best six euro I spent in Vienna.
I have a few friends who are way into this sort of thing and to them I say, if you are ever in Vienna this is a must do. Who wouldn't pass up an opportunity to see a real conjoined twin fetus in a jar? Or better yet the skeleton of a baby born without a brain or cranium, they had more than one of those. Trust me, all the good stuff is on the second floor, behind this totally awesome door:

The first floor is more of a display of medical instruments and how things were for medicine in the past. My favorite display was the dentist's office. I snapped this photo pretty quick like so don't judge me too much. I ask you to pay close attention to the wheels at the bottom back of the dental chair. It took me a second to figure out, but those are foot-powered dental drills. I thought the electric version was nasty business. What happened when your dentist got tired?

The other exhibit I found cool was the morgue mock up they had built. It is also where I discovered my 20mm lens is pretty sick. Not mortally wounded, but still sick. It's not supposed to be out of focus on the edges like that. It's supposed to vignette, at least on digital. I left the photo in because it gave the morgue an other-worldly feel. I didn't even have to use my Hipstimatic.

The only other thing I photographed was something I've been fascinated with for a few years and hope to build one day. 

It may not be a great photo, but it is a great still. I'm sure it was for medicinal use. So will the one I someday build. I hope to go bigger someday, but this looks great for small batch personal use. 
Anyway, if you ever find yourself in Vienna and you're bored on a Wednesday or Saturday morning stop by this place. The hours are short and it's only open a few days a week but it is totally worth the trip. Granted it may not exactly be for the kids, unless you really want to explain why the wax mold of that penis has blisters all over it. On second thought, it might be a good way to scare your young ones out of having sex for a few extra years. Enjoy.
And as another parting gift a cool detail photo of one of the windows in the courtyard. The brickwork and age of it made for a neat photo.

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