Friday, January 29, 2010

"The Museum of Criminal Anthropology Cesare Lombroso"

Alessandro Molinengo--purveyor of Nautilus Scientific Antiques and Old Oddities of Turin, Italy (my favorite shop I've not yet been to!)--just emailed me about the newly re-opened "Museum of Criminal Anthropology Cesare Lombroso" at the University of Turin. Following is more about this amazing sounding museum, originally established in 1876 by infamous criminologist and physiognomist Cesare Lombroso, from the Nautilus website:
The Museum of Criminal Anthropology, dedicated to Cesare Lombroso, has reopened after years of restoration and access to specialist researchers only. The institution was founded by Lombroso in 1898 under the name "the Museum of Psychiatry and Criminology," documenting his beliefs and research into detecting criminality through physiognomy.

The 400 skulls in his collection, including one belonging to the brigand Giuseppe Villella, were used by Lombroso to develop his theory of the "median occipital fossa," a cranial anomaly that he believed contributed to deviant behavior.

On show are drawings, photos, criminal evidence, anatomical sections of "madmen and criminals" and work produced by criminals in the last century. The exhibits also include the Gallows of Turin, which were in use until the city's final hanging in 1865 and the possessions of a man known as White Stag, a renowned impostor who convinced Europe he was a great Native American chief. "But it is not a museum of horrors," insisted Giacomo Giacobini, coordinator of the "Museum of Man" project that the Lombroso collection will be part of. Rather, the museum is intended to recall positivistic era in science, in which Turin played a key role, starting with Cesare Lombroso's work.

The creation of the museum collections involved extensive interdisciplinary research by Lombroso in the fields of criminology, anatomy, psychiatry,psychology, sociology, ethnology, anthropology, linguistics, law, fine arts and medicine.

Lombroso's own head is also on display, a century down the line, perfectly preserved in a glass chamber.
Yet another reason to return to Italy! I hope very much to have the opportunity to visit this museum sooner rather than later, and the fabulous looking Nautilus Antiques as well!

All above images are drawn from the Nautilus Antiques write-up of the museum; to see many more images, and to learn much more about the museum, you can visit this original post by clicking here. You can visit the official "Museum of Criminal Anthropology Cesare Lombroso" website, and take a virtual tour of some of the artifacts, by clicking here. To check out the incredible Nautilus website (and see why I love it so!), click here. To find out more about Cesare Lombroso, click here. To read an earlier related Morbid Anatomy post, click here.

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