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Polish Journal of Pathology
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vol. 69
Original paper

An insight into the history of anatomopathological museums. Part 2

Jacek Gulczyński, Piotr Paluchowski, Jacek Halasz, Adam Szarszewski, Marek Bukowski, Ewa Iżycka-Świeszewska

Pol J Pathol 2018; 69 (2): 118-127
Online publish date: 2018/07/06
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The second part of the comprehensive work concerning pathology museums and collections presents their history since the 19th century. The evolution and specialisation of museums, depending on the attitude of their creators and geographic localization, have been analysed. The changing aspects of obtaining the exhibits and how they were preserved, presented, and stored are also a part of this work. The methods of human organ fixation reached excellence in the 19th century, but the rarity of some pathologies urged the scientists to recreate them artificially in models for didactic purposes. In the 19th and 20th centuries one could observe the flourishing development with a plateau and then decline from the second part of the 20th century to the reorientation of the museums that took place in Europe and North America. The history of anatomopathological museums is connected with ethical problems related to acquisition of exhibits in previous centuries and especially during World War II. The changing purpose of the collections, as well as their unclear future and the impact on the visitors, are evident.

For the last 50 years, many museums have been closing completely, but some collections have been digitalised and are still in permanent use. The uniqueness of old specimens with certain diseases, often long gone and not observed anymore, makes them important in many aspects nowadays. Pathology museums are themselves relics of the past, being at the same time tangible proof of ways of development in medicine, but also a way of preservation of human knowledge in a special type of relation with the human body.

pathology, museum, history, collections, preservation, ceroplastics

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