‘Grimms’ Fairy Tales’: Once upon a very morbid time

Generations of children inspired to crack open a volume of “Grimms’ Fairy Tales” after seeing the lavish Disney versions have been confronted by a rude shock. “Quite often,” says Anna Dhody, “there is no happily ever after.”

Dhody and her co-curator, folklorist Linda Lee, explore the grislier side of those familiar bedtime stories in “Grimms’ Anatomy,” a new exhibition that recently opened for an extended run at the Mutter Museum.

The show, which celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Grimms’ first collection, uses the various depictions of bodily traumas and transformations as a leaping off point to explore the Mutter’s always fascinatingly morbid collection.

“So many of the Grimms’ fairy tales deal with the corporeal human body, whether dealing with sicknesses or a magical transformation or the various unpleasant things that can happen to the body,” Dhody says.

“There’s a lot of relevant topics to the Mutter Museum embedded in these stories.”

The small exhibit includes an examination of Chinese foot-binding in relation to Cinderella’s glass slipper, preserved hair for “Rapunzel” and a desiccated human head beside a discussion of “accidental decapitation” in the lesser-known tale “The Juniper Tree.”

Like the exhibit, Dhody points out, “These original fairy tales were not meant for children. They’re for an adult audience, and bad things happen sometimes.”

If you go

‘Grimms’ Anatomy’


The Mutter Museum

19 S. 22nd St.

$10-$15, 215-563-3737