Hudson Valley Library’s ‘Secret’ Basement Houses Fetuses, Shrunken Head
One of the Hudson Valley's best kept secrets is a town library that houses an entire museum of oddities including jars of fetuses and a human shrunken head.
It may look like a normal library from out front, but the Akin Free Library holds much more than just books. Located on Quaker Hill Road in Pawling, the library's lower floor serves as home to the Olive Gunnison Natural History Museum.
This quirky museum displays hundreds of stuffed birds, rocks and minerals that were donated to the library back in 1960 by a botanist named Olive Gunnison. Her personal collection also includes some curious exhibits such as horse and human fetuses and an actual shrunken head.
The shrunken head is displayed along with instructions on how it was preserved, you know, just incase you're curious. Other popular exhibits in the museum include stuffed exotic animal heads, preserved butterflies and a suit of armor from Madrid. The library is also home to an impressive collection of original newspaper articles dating all the way back to Lincoln's assassination.
The library is open to the public on weekends through October and six hours every Saturday in the winter. Directions and operating hours are available on the library's website.
If you're unable to visit, YouTube user Lauren DeMayo produced an entertaining documentary about her own experience visiting the library and museum which includes interviews with the staff and a look at some of the more curious items on display.