‘Exploded’ Beauchene skulls, feet in jars or mounted vertebrae lined up in wooden cupboards or behind glass door cabinets are common presences in anatomical collections. Caught between the living and the dead, organic life and man-made artifacts, they hold within stories of past and present medical, anatomical or anthropological practices and world-views. Why were they chosen and how come these individuals ended up as specimens on a shelf? In which way scientists and curators used them throughout centuries? What are we to do now with them?
Prompted by the launch of the Human anatomy virtual museum, a project which aims at bringing closer to the contemporary audiences the small but interesting anatomical collection of the Anatomy School at the University of Cambridge (a project in which I was excited to take part), I have decided to start a series of posts related to the above questions. Every 2 weeks, they will talk about:
Favourite human remains collections (and why)
Favourite texts on the history & fate of human remains collections (and the key issues each raises)
Some of the people dealing with human remains (collections) which I think are worth watching
Favourite online resources about such collections & their study
…and anything else which will come along the way. Thoughts and suggestions are always appreciated.