Czech Please!

Two of my favorite historical events have occurred in Prague. I love reading about the Velvet Revolution, just because I think it's amazing that Vaclav Havel and his playwright cronies managed to sweep away communism in a completely bloodless coup. I also love the Defenestration of Prague, not only because defenestration is a GREAT word (to defenestrate means specifically to throw out of a window), but also because according to Britannica, when Czech Protestants threw three officials out of a council room window for hampering their rights in 1618, none of the three suffered any serious injuries.

Anyway, with all that great history, it's no wonder that my new favorite museum is opening up in Prague: The Museum of Communism. And while there will certainly be some disturbing exhibits within, the curators seem to be running a pretty light-hearted campaign. Taglines for the institute include "Pray we don't catch you at another museum", "Cash, credit cards and blatant back-handed bribes accepted at our gift shop," and my personal favorite, the ad pictured here.

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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