Drawing shows the rod through Gage's skull.

Skull of Phineas Gage and the Rod That Passed Through It

Field review by the editors.

Boston, Massachusetts

Phineas P. Gage became famous because a 43-inch-long iron rod was blown through his head in 1848. And he lived. A medical curiosity of the 19th century, Gage both enjoyed and loathed his unexpected fame before finally dying a dozen years later. His body was buried, then exhumed. His skull became the property of the doctor who'd initially plugged the holes in it. The doctor in turn donated it to Harvard University.

Gage's celebrated skull sits on a glass shelf in an unspectacular display case in the Warren Anatomical Museum. For such a famous body part, it's really kind of lost among the museum's other freak skeletons and anatomical oddities. On the shelf below the skull, Gage's famous black iron rod is mounted horizontally on a presentation stand, elegantly engraved with a brief description of the accident and a notation that Gage "completely recovered from the injury."

The Warren Anatomical Museum displays a collection of pathological oddities akin to Philadelphia's Mutter Museum and Maryland's National Museum of Health and Medicine. Sadly for shutterbugs, it doesn't allow the public to photograph any of its exhibits.

Also see: Where the Accident Happened

Skull of Phineas Gage and the Rod That Passed Through It

Countway Library of Medicine

10 Shattuck St., Boston, MA
In the exhibition gallery of the Warren Anatomical Museum, which is on the fifth floor of the Countway Library of Medicine. No photography allowed.
M-F 9-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
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