Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oltre il Corpo, L’uomo (Besides the Body, the Man), Florence, Italy

Now up in Florence, Italy through February 12, 2011: a number of waxes and preparations from the amazing and elusive museum of the Institute of Pathological Anatomy; See images and video tour above to get a sense of what this collection has to offer.

More, from the Tuscan Traveler website:
For those visiting or living in Florence, only a short time is left to experience one of the most unique and wonderful exhibits for those interested in either the art of wax modeling or the science of medical-surgical pathology practiced in the 1800s.

The free exhibit, called Oltre il Corpo, L’uomo (Besides the Body, the Man), will end February 12, 2011.

...Whereas the anatomical wax models at [such museums as] Museo La Specola show the body in its perfect and healthy state, the creations at the Pathology Museum, from which curator Elisabetta Susani selected prime examples for Oltre il Corpo, L’uomo, are sometimes shocking representations of diseases that were treated in the 1800s. One of the most interesting is a the wax model side by side with the skeleton of a child with an incurable case of hydrocephalus...

The Pathology Museum was created in 1824 at the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, built in 1288 by the father of Dante’s muse Beatrice. It wasn’t until 1742 when there was a move to create a medical academy to formalize the sharing of information among doctors and scientists.

It took another eighty years to establish the Florentine Medical-Physical Society. One of the first acts of the Society was to set up a Pathological Museum. It was not a museum for the public, but rather a repository for information about the pathology and medical-surgical treatment of diseases...

Due to the difficulty of ensuring correct conservation of the pathological materials, it was decided to have some duplicates fabricated in wax. The Museum’s model-makers studied the techniques practiced in the other wax-modeling laboratory in Florence, La Specola.

Surprisingly realistic models were fabricated, providing a fascinating glimpse of the major pathologies in the 19th century. The collection of anatomical wax figures includes numerous wax reproductions, mainly the work of Giuseppe Ricci, Luigi Calamai and Egisto Tortori.

A remarkable example of symbiosis between science and art, the wax models were important, above all, for their value in teaching, allowing professors to illustrate the most important diseases to future physicians without having to depend the dissection of cadavers or the preservation of diseased organs....

Osservatorio dei Saperi e delle Arti (OSA)
Open: Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 1pm (Free)
Ends: February 12, 2011
Address: Largo Brambilla 3, New Entrance of Careggi Hospital
Click here to read the full story and see more images. Images and video above drawn from the Tuscan Traveler website.

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