You won't believe what this place has...

On this day in 2000, as part of the Out of the Blue Closets exhibit at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C. the bones of President James Garfield’s spine were put on display one last day. The exhibit featured medical oddities from the museum’s archives.

The display of President Garfield’s spinal column showed exactly where one out of two assassin’s bullets had passed through it on July 2, 1881. The first bullet grazed Garfield’s arm, while the second bullet lodged below his pancreas.

Alexander Graham Bell, known for patenting the first practical telephone, was one of Garfield’s physicians at the time. He attempted to use an early version of a metal detector to locate the second bullet, but failed.

Historical accounts vary slightly as to what exactly led to Garfield’s death. Physicians may have given him treatments that expedited his demise, including the administering of morphine, quinine, calomel, and brandy; he was also fed through the rectum.

Others contend Garfield died from an already-advanced case of heart disease that the trauma of the shooting only worsened. Autopsy reports described how pressure from the pancreatic wound induced a fatal aneurysm. Whatever the cause, Garfield succumbed to complications from his wounds 80 days after the shooting.

In addition to Garfield's spine, the museum also owns some of Lincoln’s skull fragments and President Eisenhower’s gallstones.

Pretty bizarre items to put on display, don't you think?

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