Cultures of Anatomical Collections


International conference, Leiden University, 15 – 17 February 2012


The conference ‘Cultures of Anatomical Collections’ will explore anatomical preparations and collections (preparations of human material as well as wax and other models) as important parts of cultural heritage. This means that we treat them in a similar way as we would examine other historical artifacts stored in today’s museum. Although the history of anatomy and anatomical illustrations has been a popular topic in the history of medicine during the last decade, the history of its material remains has been somewhat neglected. And yet, in particular when taking into account recent historiographies of materiality and medical practices, it offers challenging interdisciplinary questions on the history of anatomy as a whole.

The conference addresses questions such as:

How do the technical details of anatomical preparations tell us about the ideas of their maker; how do ideas on beauty and perfection shape preparations; how were preparations handled and used for teaching

purposes: how does the interest of non-medical audiences shape anatomical preparations? On collections as a whole we can ask: How are particular collections build up; how do decisions of curators affect the build-up of collections; how does the housing of a collection affect its outlook and popularity?

Keynote speakers: Andrew Cunningham, Ruth Richardson, Anita Guerrini, Sam Alberti, Simon Chaplin and Anna Märker.

Organisers: Rina Knoeff, Marieke Hendriksen, Hieke Huistra.

Registration deadline: 1 February 2012

For the program and registration form please visit or contact Rina Knoeff on [email protected]