Last summer when I headed back to Connecticut, I wanted to find something completely different to see or explore. I lived in that state for so long, but there are still a lot of fascinating places that I never visited or even knew about. One of my favorite travel sites showcasing strange and weird things to visit around the world, Atlas Obscura, posted about the Cushing Brain Collection deep within the bowels of Yale University. A museum of diseased brains was exactly what I was looking for.
The Cushing Brain Collection is found in the basement of the Yale Medical Library at 333 Cedar Street in New Haven (map here). The hours on their website currently show that the library is open every day of the week with a limited number of tours, but I'd recommend to call ahead because it can occasionally close for special events. You will need to turn over an official ID or passport and get passes to access the brains.
Dr. Harvey Cushing was both a graduate of and a professor at Yale University. He is known as the father of modern neurosurgery and was one of the pioneers of early brain surgery. He left all his medical records and samples to the university upon his death in 1939, but they were forgotten over the decades and ended up sequestered in the dusty basement of a medical dormitory. Eventually some med students rediscovered the brain collection in the 90s, and formed a secret Brain Society, where they'd sneak off through the crawl spaces into the dark basement filled with brains as a rite of passage.
Upon learning about the collection of brains and records from a med student and Brain Society member, Christopher Wahl, Yale professor Dr. Dennis D. Spencer was amazed. Together with medical photographer and image specialist, Terri Dagradi, they began in 2005 to catalogue, document, and display the collection and start the process of finding it a permanent home. Five years later on June 5th, 2010, the Cushing Center was opened to the public in the basement of Yale's medical library.