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Visit a medical museum online -- just the thing for a rainy day

February 20, 2010 |  8:13 am

Bezoar Have a passion for lorgnettes? Intrigued by violet ray machines and other vision-related chicanery? (Who isn't?!) Check out the Museum of Vision online.

Offered by the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the site features historical snapshots, artifact photos and short biographies. And the collection of spectacles from the 1700s is pretty cool. I'm digging the ones with green-tinted glass. Though the scissor spectacles do have a certain panache.

The site, launched to mark the museum's 30th anniversary, raises the question: Why stop there?

It's supposed to rain here in God's country today, so ...

On to the National Museum of Dentistry for a quick look at special moments in dental history. Poor St. Apollonia, the patron saint of dentistry. She was burned at the stake -- after her teeth were extracted. (Those Romans.)

For a more in-depth exploration of medical topics and resources, however, allow me to suggest the  National Museum of Health and Medicine. Such treasures! The skull of a Civil War soldier hit with an iron canister ball ... a collection of bezoars ....

The exhibits are no doubt better in person, but all that walking. And besides, you'd have to go to D.C. If you're indoors today because of Los Angeles' weather, a trip to the East Coast is unlikely to seem very appealing this time of year.

Here's a much bigger list of virtual museums (the discovery of insulin has its own -- how cool is that?), plus more traditional medical museums, archives and libraries within the U.S. and beyond.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Alas, no bezoar photos could be found in our photo collection; this was as close as I could get. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times