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Medical-historical Anatomical Collection

The collection is closed until further notice!

The anatomical collection of the University of Marburg, founded in the beginning of the 19th century as a teaching collection, comprises about 2500 anatomical specimens and models, of which about 60 % (1500) have been inventoried, a histological section collection with an estimated 10,000 slides, various drawings, anatomical maps and historical photographic plates. In addition, it has been expanded over time to include medical instruments, so that it can now be considered a medical history-anatomical collection.

Most of the "objects" in our collection, with the exception of the collection parts of medical instruments and models, are to be classified as culturally sensitive collection items from an ethical point of view, since they were made from and of human tissue. Here, among other things, the current guidelines of the German Museums Association (Deutscher Museumsbund e.V.) on the handling of human remains in museums and collections apply. In addition, the deceased usually became part of our collection after their death without their consent. We also have to reckon with the fact that a large part of the dissections happened out of asymmetrical power relations and contexts of injustice. For this reason, and also for fire safety reasons, the collection will no longer be on public display for the time being. However, from the perspective of scientific and medical history, but also from the perspective of cultural and social history, the preservation is of great value in order to trace the ambiguities of medical research. Moreover, as scientists we are also obliged to inform a broader public about how scientific achievements of the past are also linked to injustices committed. This can only be done after thorough provenance research and historical contextualization of the preparations. Based on the results of these investigations, differentiated decisions will have to be made in the future about the accessibility and, if necessary, restitution of each individual specimen.

Future exhibition concepts and formats will be based on this.

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