Dried specimens and "natural" anatomy

In the second half of the nineteenth century new preparation techniques favoured the presentation of "natural" anatomy specimens, obtained from organs or body parts conserved by drying or in liquid.

In the Museum display cases there are, above all, numerous dried specimens, often partially coloured. In the example of the specimen of a hand shown here, the nerves have been coloured in white and the arteries have been injected with red sealing wax. In some display cases specimens of this type seem to be very repetitive.

A closer examination shows differences in the branching of blood vessels and nerves, the object of research aimed at the study of individual variability, an argument also of practical interest for clinical applications. The rich collection of dried specimens of brains, exhibited in the second hall of the Museum, supplies an example of a special conservation technique developed by the Turin
Anatomical school in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The Museum conserves a rich collection of skeletons of human fetuses at various stages of development, some of which are protected by glass bells. Their preparation, which requires great delicacy, has kept the bones connected, thanks to conservation by the drying of the joint structures. The series on display shows the progress of ossification of the bones from the third month of pregnancy to birth and beyond.

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