Scope of the Collections

Scope of the Collections

The Anatomy Museum provides a key source for the study of medicine and along with the Pathology and Forensic Medicine Collection, forms the core of the University’s medicine and health resources. The University’s medical collections are of national importance.

Our anatomy collection comprises specimens and objects that provide a comprehensive reference for normal anatomical conditions, which covers the range of functional body systems.

The collection totals around 2000 specimens and objects. This includes fluid-preserved specimens of human tissue, osteological material, historical anatomical models, works on paper and a selection of other material used in the preparation of specimens and relating to 19th century grave robbing.

Many of the specimens are preparations of notable past members of staff, such as Professors Struthers (1823-1899), Reid (1851-1939) and Lockhart (1894-1987). Likewise, many of the objects directly relate to the teaching and research interests of such persons. Supporting contextual information is held in the form of past departmental and personal papers and committee minutes at the University’s Special Libraries and Archives and provides a rich historical angle to the physical collections.

The historical model collection dates from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It includes examples from the major model makers of the time, including Auzoux, Maison Tramond, Studio Ziegler and Bock Lips Steger. The models are representative of the media being used at the time with examples in wax, papier-mâché and plaster. Of particular note within the collection for its rarity is a life-sized papier-mâché model of a man dating from 1879 by Auzoux which breaks down into 92 individual pieces. It is one of only a few surviving examples in the world. The anatomical models form an important aspect of the University’s wider model collection (held also by the Pathology and Forensic Medicine Collection and the Zoology Museum).

Works on paper form a key feature of the collection. Of particular importance are twenty watercolours of anatomical dissections dating from the early 1890s. What makes them unique is that sixteen can still be matched to their original associated fluid-preserved specimens prepared by Professor Robert Reid in 1890. Whilst it was not uncommon for 19th century anatomy schools to employ an artist, no other such watercolours exist in other Scottish collections whereby they can still be set alongside and compared with their original specimen. Another significant aspect of the works on paper is a collection of anatomical drawings produced for Professor Robert Lockhart’s influential 1959 textbook Anatomy of the Human Body (Lockhart et al, 1959). Seven artists and photographers contributed illustrations – Alberto Morrocco, DJ Stephen, W Cruickshank, DW Cameron, RW Matthews, Eric Naylor and Alexander Cain. Alberto Morrocco (1917-1998) is the most prominent of these. Whilst he is best-known for his landscapes of Scotland and Venice, his anatomical work for Lockhart was produced in the post-war period following his service as a conscientious objector in the Medical Corp during WWII. He is not known to have produced any other such anatomical works during his life and this makes our collection an incredibly rare and unique example of his work.