The Fate of Anatomical Collections: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Fate of Anatomical Collections

1st Edition

By Rina Knoeff, Robert Zwijnenberg


336 pages

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Hardback: 9781409468158
pub: 2015-03-04
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pub: 2016-03-09
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Almost every medical faculty possesses anatomical and/or pathological collections: human and animal preparations, wax- and other models, as well as drawings, photographs, documents and archives relating to them. In many institutions these collections are well-preserved, but in others they are poorly maintained and rendered inaccessible to medical and other audiences. This volume explores the changing status of anatomical collections from the early modern period to date. It is argued that anatomical and pathological collections are medically relevant not only for future generations of medical faculty and future research, but they are also important in the history of medicine, the history of the institutions to which they belong, and to the wider understanding of the cultural history of the body. Moreover, anatomical collections are crucial to new scholarly inter-disciplinary studies that investigate the interaction between arts and sciences, especially medicine, and offer a venue for the study of interactions between anatomists, scientists, anatomical artists and other groups, as well as the display and presentation of natural history and medical cabinets. In considering the fate of anatomical collections - and the importance of the keeper’s decisions with respect to collections - this volume will make an important methodological contribution to the study of collections and to discussions on how to preserve universities’ academic heritage.


"This is among the best collections available on the history of anatomy. It is organized in ways that promote thematic and theoretical readings while also allowing historical and geographical comparisons to be made. It is worth a seri-ous, cover-to-cover read by historians of medicine, natural history, and anatomy who are interested in the state of their field." - Carin Berkowitz, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

"One of the strongest aspects of this book is its ability to furnish the reader with some fabulously random pieces of knowledge." - Heidi Nicholl, independent scholar

About the Authors

Rina Knoeff is a University Lecturer at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Groningen. She is particularly interested in the cultural history of medicine and chemistry. Previous work has centred on the Boerhaave school and on early modern Dutch anatomy and anatomical collections. Robert Zwijnenberg is Professor of Art and Science Interactions at Leiden University. He has published on Renaissance culture and art theory, philosophy of art, and on the relation between the arts and the life sciences. Zwijnenberg is one of the founding directors of The Arts and Genomics Centre.

About the Series

The History of Medicine in Context

The History of Medicine in Context

An interest in medicine is one of the constants that re-occurs throughout history. From the earliest times, man has sought ways to combat the myriad of diseases and ailments that afflict the human body, resulting in a number of evolving and often competing philosophies and practices whose repercussions spread far beyond the strictly medical sphere.

For more than a decade The History of Medicine in Context series has provided a unique platform for the publication of research pertaining to the study of medicine from broad social, cultural, political, religious and intellectual perspectives. Offering cutting-edge scholarship on a range of medical subjects that cross chronological, geographical and disciplinary boundaries, the series consistently challenges received views about medical history and shows how medicine has had a much more pronounced effect on western society than is often acknowledged. As medical knowledge progresses, throwing up new challenges and moral dilemmas, The History of Medicine in Context series offers the opportunity to evaluate the shifting role and practice of medicine from the long perspective, not only providing a better understanding of the past, but often an intriguing perspective on the present.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century