On the road and looking for something a little different this summer ? Well, if you don’t mind a little ‘shock and gore’, head to the nearest¬†medical museums.

From stomach sized hairballs (National Museum of Health and Medicine) to a giant hamster wheel for energetic patients (Glore Psychiatric Museum), medical museums offer the chance to explore the medicines colorful history and discover the bizzare, the offbeat, and the extreme treatments of days gone by.

You’ll be amazed (and relieved) by how far the practice of medicine has come.

1. The Glore Psychiatric Museum is housed in the former ‘State Lunatic Asylum No. 2′ building in St Joseph, Missouri. From medical artifacts such as a tranquilizing chair and a dousing tank to exhibits featuring the ’1,446 Objects Swallowed by a Patient’ and the ‘television diary’, this museum will leave you speechless, spellbound, and mighty relieved that the days of such barbaric medical treatment is well and truly over.

2. The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia was orginally established as a place where trainee doctors could go to learn about anatomy and human medical anomalies. It’s those anomalies – such as the preserved body of the ‘Soap Lady’ and a cancerous growth removed from President Grover Cleveland – that now draw the public to it’s doors.

3. National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington DC is a goldmine for American history buffs. Here you can see not only the bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln but also the probe used to locate the bullet and the blood stained shirt cuff of the surgeon who attended Lincoln’s autopsy. Other permanent displays include ‘Medicine During the Civil War’ and ‘Battlefied Surgery 101′.

4. International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago offers a diverse collection of surgical memoriabilia and artefacts from around the world. Spread out over four floors, the exhibits include early 20th century X-ray machines, trephining (skull drilling) instruments, and an iron lung. The museums newest exhibit, Beyond Broken Bones, looks at the history of orthopedics and prothestics from the Ancient Egyptians to modern day.

There are medical museums all over the USA¬†open to the public. So next time you are on the road and looking for something different, find out if the city you’re in has one.