The Spallanzani Museum (Reggio Emilia, Italy)
Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799) was a Catholic priest, biologist and physiologist (I guess back then those three things went together?) who, according to Wikipedia, “made important contributions to the experimental study of bodily functions, animal reproduction, and animal echolocation.” During his lifetime he amassed a large collection of specimens which, upon his death, ended up in a gallery at the Palazzo dei Musei in the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, Italy. It’s generally just an old-style zoology collection, but there are quite a few curiosities as well, like two-headed snakes in jars and stuffed cows with legs coming out of their shoulders and that sort of thing. But of particular morbid interest is THIS:
The above photo and others of the exhibit can be viewed at Morbid Anatomy.
University of Florence Museum of Pathological Anatomy (Florence, Italy)
This is a small but entrancing collection of wax models and pathological specimens, including some of the most fascinating wax models I’ve ever seen. Check out the gallery on the Morbid Anatomy Flickr page to see what I mean!
Museum Boerhaave (Leiden, Netherlands)
From Atlas Obscura:
“The museum, named for Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738), a Dutch physician and botanist, displays over four hundred years of advances in knowledge in a building that dates back to the 1500s. Originally the St. Caecilia nunnery, then a “plague hospital and madhouse,” the historic building was converted to a university hospital in 1653. In 1720, Herman Boerhaave gave a famous series of lectures known as the “sickbed lessons,” marking the beginning of clinical teaching and of the academic hospital in its modern form. In 1991, the St. Caecilia nunnery took its current form as a museum, where displays of human pathology bring to mind a different sort of “life after death” – that of the medical specimen.
“The museum also contains a wonderful collection of antique scientific instruments, natural history displays, and an old operating theater.”
There’s a lovely collection of photos at the Morbid Curiosity Flick page.
This museum was created in 1995 to house a variety of medical specimens, most notable of which are a collection of vintage wax models illustrating all sort of horrible venereal diseases and malformations of the genitals. In other words, when in Brussels, you absolutely need to stop here!
Morbid Anatomy has an article about the museum and a lovely collection of images on Flickr.
The Anatomical Museum (Anatomisches Museum) of the University of Basel dates back to the acquisitional activities of Carl Gustav Jung in the 1820s. As the Collection of Pathology and Anatomy (Pathologisch-Anatomische Sammlung), it moved into its own building in 1880. Two especially significant objects in this collection are the oldest anatomical specimen in the world (prepared by Andreas Vesalius in Basel in 1543) and a skeleton prepared by Felix Platter in 1573. (Suggested by William Thirteen)
Real estate has always been heavily in demand in San Francisco. So much so that the town residents passed an ordinance in 1900 outlawing the construction of any more cemeteries in the city, and then passed another ordinance in 1912 evicting all existing cemeteries from the city limits. The dead were sent off to the necropolis of Colma, south of the city. With most of Colma’s land dedicated to cemeteries, the population of the dead outnumbers the living by over a thousand to one. This has led to Colma being called “the City of the Silent” and has given rise to a humorous motto, now recorded on the city’s website: “It’s great to be alive in Colma.” It’s also great to meander the impressive city of the dead and visit some of the great luminaries of early California history.
Here’s a great article about the history of cemeteries in San Francisco. (Thanks to Eleanor for the link.)
When I was dating the girl in DC earlier this year, I made a trip to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. Was it a rip-off at $21.95 compared to the great low cost (free!) of the Smithsonian museums? Certainly it was. But were there interesting things on display here? Yes, there certainly are, including Gacy’s Pogo the Clown outfit. So then isn’t it worth it? Well, kind of, I suppose.
But the point is: It’s closing at the end of the month! So, get out there now or wonder if it will ever open anywhere else for the rest of your life!
I’ll hurry up and put out my travelogue this week (if work allows) so that you can see what you’re missing if you choose not to make a trip.
Crime Museum Is Closing At The End of September
(Thanks to Ear for the heads up!)
The website says, “The Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, Cornwall, houses the world’s largest collection of witchcraft related artefacts and regalia.” If you need any more coaxing to visit, have a look at the photographs taken by Morbid Anatomy here.
The Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford, England)
If old-fashioned anthropological morbidity is your cup of tea, then the Pitt Rivers Museum is the place for you! A variety of artifacts from cultures all over the world (think shrunken heads and preserved skulls) in a ridiculously claustrophobic collection of cases (just look at that picture if you don’t believe me). Have a look at the collection of artifacts photographed by Morbid Anatomy here.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (Orienienburg, Germany)
A Morbid Must-See!
I visited this compelling concentration camp in the former East Germany in the summer of 2014 with a couple of friends who are of the non-morbid persuasion. I didn’t think they’d be very interested, so I tried to be polite and only allowed a few hours for the visit. As it turned out, they were every bit as fascinated by this tragic site as I was and we all wished that we’d had a full day to explore. They have done an incredible job of reconstructing the horror of life and death in the camp via first person accounts and memorabilia, with an especially huge collection of medical history memorabilia. I highly recommend that if you go, you allot a full day and get there early!
The account of my visit can be read on my Forlorn Photography site: