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Image galleries

  • Origins of life

    Origins of life

    During the 19th century, museums of anatomical models became popular with Europeans seeking an unusual afternoon's entertainment. One of the themes central to these waxwork displays was the process of human sexual reproduction. Museum proprietors encouraged women in particular to scrutinise such exhibits so that they might become better acquainted with their own 'internal machinery'.

  • Contagious diseases

    Contagious diseases

    Anatomical exhibitions were often used to communicate information about the 'social diseases' of the 19th and early 20th centuries at a time when there were few effective cures and when even discussion of such matters was considered unacceptable. Models illustrating the ravages of syphilis, smallpox and TB gave some insight into how infection was transferred and were seen by some in the medical establishment as a powerful way of promoting the message 'prevention is better than cure.'

  • Virtual dissections

    Virtual dissections

    Accurate representations of the body were required to accompany the institution of anatomy lessons at major European medical universities in the early 14th century. Corpses deteriorated quickly in the anatomical theatre, increasing the need to record vital information - initially through engravings and, as ceroplastic technology advanced, with three dimensional wax models.

  • 'The Parade of Monsters'

    'The Parade of Monsters'

    Around 1900, a waxworks museum was established in the heart of Barcelona's red-light district. 'The Parade of Monsters', as it became known, originally contained a mechanical wizard, a 'house of murders' and a section devoted to human oddities alongside its superbly accurate embryological and anatomical models and jars of human parts.

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