1st Edition

The Fate of Anatomical Collections

By Rina Knoeff, Robert Zwijnenberg Copyright 2015

    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.

    I: Introduction; 1: Setting the Stage; 2: Organ Music; II: Fated Collections; 3: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Or, What Richard Owen did to John Hunter's Collection; 4: Gender, Fate and McGill University's Medical Collections; 5: Resilient Collections; 6: Inside the Charnel House; III: Preparations, Models and Users; 7: Adieu Albinus; 8: User-Developers, Model Students and Ambassador Users; 9: Mapping Anatomical Collections in Nineteenth-Century Vienna; 10: Fall and Rise of the Roca Museum; IV: Provenance and Fate; 11: The Fate of the Beaded Babies; 12: ‘Not Everything that Says Java is from Java'; 13: Cataloguing Collections; V: Museum and Collection Practices Today; 14: Anatomical Craft; 15: Restoration Reconsidered; 16: From Bottled Babies to Biobanks; 17: Ball Pool Anatomy


    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.

    "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