In the years 1784-1786 just under 1,200 elaborately finished anatomical wax models were transported on pack donkeys from Florence to Vienna. Emperor Joseph II had placed an order for them as educational models for training purposes at the medical-surgical military academy – the "Josephinum". Today this collection counts as one of the jewels in the history of medicine worldwide and forms the core of the Josephinum collections belonging to the Medical University Vienna.
History of European culture and science
Together with the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden and the "Luigi Cattaneo" Museo delle Cere Anatomiche in Bologna, the Josephinum is now putting on a special exhibition presenting anatomical models from Vienna, Leiden and Bologna from the perspective of the history of European culture and science. For many centuries the three cities were centres of medical excellence due to their universities and were involved in an intensive scientific exchange with each other and in many and varied cultural and economic interactions.
For centuries anatomical models have played a significant role in the spreading of medical knowledge. They tell a story of fear and hopelessness of sick human beings and of the discovery of the human body which, now as then, interests and fascinates medicine, art and science. At the same time they are a historically significant place where science and art meet. The "Amazing Models" are inseparably linked with regional, scientific and cultural identity and an outstanding example of the traditionally intensive links between the cultural and scientific centres of Europe.
"Amazing Models" heralds a new era in the Josephinum
For Christiane Druml, Vice Rector of the MedUni Vienna, the exhibition is particularly important for another reason as well: "With ‘Amazing Models' the Josephinum is heralding a new era. We want to present the treasures of medical history we have here in a more active and attractive manner than we have so far and bring this rich cultural heritage to life." In addition to the anatomical wax models the Josephinum houses collections of medical instruments for example as well as libraries containing books going back to the 15th century.
The joint exhibition by the Josephinum (Vienna), Boerhaave Museum (Leiden/Netherlands) and the "Luigi Cattaneo" Museo delle Cere Anatomiche (Bologna/Italy) is being sponsored by the EU’s European Culture Programme.
Amazing Models – Anatomical Models from European perspectives
Open from 24 May to 26 October 2013; Fridays, Saturdays respectively from 10 – 18 hrs; Josephinum – Collections of the Medical University Vienna
Währingerstrasse 25, 1090 Vienna
Entry & guided tours
Adults 4.- Euros, children and young people up to 19 years free
Concessions 2.- Euros (for students, those doing military and community service, pensioners)
Guided tours (3.- /person) after advance booking on 01/40160-26001 or