Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

Rouen, France

Musee Flaubert et d'Histoire de la Medecine

Located in the house where Gustave Flaubert was born, this odd museum has more to do with medical grotesquery than the Western novel. 

Located in a former hospital that was also the birthplace of famed author Gustave Flaubert, the Musée Flaubert et d’Histoire de la Medecine seems to have very little to do with the writer behind Madame Bovary and everything to do with grotesque medical history.

Gustave Flaubert was born in 1821 to a father who was the directing surgeon of the hospital where the birth took place. This would seem to be the extent of Flaubert’s association to the museum that now resides in the historic space since, other than a few scant artifacts from the author’s life, the rest of the collection consists of strange medical relics and equipment. The strangeness of 18th and 19th century medicine is on full display in the museum, containing such items as a bed for six patients, mummified heads of hanging victims, and even a rare stuffed obstetrical mannequin which was used to help educate people on the birthing process. In addition there is also a completely restored version of an apothecary’s shop and of course the preserved room in which Flaubert was born.

Today a medicinal herb garden adjoins the house, a feature which also has nothing to do with the famed author who was born their. As a pilgrimage site for lovers of literature, the Musee Flaubert et d’Histoire de la Medecine may be a bit disappointing, but for lovers of the macabre history of medicine Flaubert’s name has kept this treasure trove alive.