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'Anatomical Illustrations' from the Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine

Discover the fascinating history of medicine's depictions of the human body through the New York Academy of Medicine's rich collection.

During this intimate daytime session inside the New York Academy of Medicine's beautiful rare book room, we'll be guided by two stewards as we look through a selection of curious historic anatomical illustrations.

Perusing these books, you'll discover that the first full-scale attempts to illustrate the human body began in the 16th century and featured skeletons and partially dissected figures. Many of these, sometimes called "muscle men" and "flayed men," were very beautiful.

Many of these depictions, innovative in their presentation of bones and muscle groups, were concerned not only with accuracy, but also with the nature of death. We'll explore the ways in which shifting attitudes towards the body and the development of new technologies, including printing techniques, photography, and x-ray, changed the way artists rendered anatomy over time.

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