Weird Science: Obscura Society Takes Us Into Surgery

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 29, 2015 4:00PM

When we got an invitation to view an amputation demonstration at the International Museum of Surgical Science from the Obscura Society, it lit up all the right buttons on our Weirdness-O-Meter.

The Obscura Society was born out of Atlas Obscura, a website that is dedicated to strange and interesting places around the world. There are quite a few cities with chapters, and Illinois is one of the newest. The Obscura Society makes use of its “Field Agents” to host events at strange places around Chicago.

The International Museum of Surgical Science definitely fits the bill. It’s in a beautiful old Lake Shore Drive mansion, built in 1917 as a replica of Marie Antoinette’s Versailles estate. It features gorgeous murals, statues and incredible marble floors. And it’s also full of trepanned skulls, medical tomes and surgical implements.

We gathered in the Hall of Immortals for the demonstration, wondering if we’d need ponchos or not, and curious as to what it exactly entailed. Turns out we had nothing to fear as it was only NSFW if you had a strong visual imagination. Still, we got a fun (and alarming) look into what it would have been like to lose a limb at the time. Though we hoped they'd have dug up some more mystery or even surgery to present, we were quite amused at the interactive amputation and amped to explore the house.

Whether or not you've been to the museum before, it’s amazing to go after hours. It has a slightly spooky feel and you have time to soak up the vibe of the house and explore the rooms thoroughly. We were particularly surprised at all the beautiful artwork we found on the fourth floor, from clay and charcoal to the beautiful and unique work of their current artist-in-residence, Vesna Jovanovic.

We hope to see more weird and wild events from Obscura, and think they’re not off to a bad start as a new addition to the city. If you’d like to take a walk on the weird side, sign up for their newsletters and attend an upcoming event. And if you haven’t been, pencil in a trip to the International Museum of Surgical Science and explore.