Bologna's Istituto di Anatomia Umana Normale – Bologna, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Bologna's Istituto di Anatomia Umana Normale

An amazing collection of wax anatomical models and terratological models. 


Walking down a hall lined from end to end with skulls and one gets the unique sense that they ought to be on their best behavior. 

Housed in a historic building at the oldest still-operating university in the world, the  Istituto di Anatomia Umana Normale has a collection of some of the first wax anatomical models ever made. Bologna University was the first institution to create a series of wax anatomical models for their medical students.

The Bologna school of wax modeling was distinct in that they would model wax directly onto real bone. Particularly excellent are the oversized wax models of brains, skulls and heads. Many of these remarkably beautiful works of art are still on display for students and visitors alike. However, the museum is not limited to anatomical waxes. The museum now also displays the collections of the Museo di Anatomia e Istologia Patologica or the Museo Cesare Taruffi.

In a room adjacent to the exposed muscles and veins of the anatomical waxes is an extraordinary collection of pathological specimens and models. Amazing and not for the faint of heart, it includes numerous delicately posed fetal skeletons and models of babies born without various organs. Be sure not to miss the wicker basket holding a dozen apple sized fetal skulls.

Also of note are the twisted frames of the pathological fetal skeletons and the strange wax model of an albino with a mutton-chops and mullet.

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December 29, 2015

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