Friday, May 26, 2006

Bone Room :: Anatomical Theatre Plot Discovered

I may have been absent from the Museum, in the Netherlands risking life and limb in pursuit of the elusive roaming Straandbeast for MoD’s Bestiary, but I still run the place! Those ninnys in Administration don’t realise that I keep a close eye on things. They seem to think that whilst the cat’s away, they can say whatever they want. What they don’t realise is that I’m lulling them, giving them as much rope as they need.

When the time is right…

Still, there are some things that you just can’t let go and this is one of them. They have been completely derelict in their research. So carried away by their piffling bureaucratic infatuation with a database – a database! – that they missed the main prize.

Or perhaps, more sinisterly, they were deliberately not mentioning it… knowing how important it could be for me. How could they, I ask you, completely overlook the presence of the original Anatomical Theatre in Leiden’s Museum Boerhaave? After all, it was only the very theatre where the last sighting of the missing Skin Armour was recorded. The museum, which houses one of the most important collections of material from the history of medicine and science in the world, was one of the museums contributing to their beloved database, that ePect thingo.

Those incompetents really should have done their research! Although the museum is modern, founded in the early years of the 20th century, the museum holdings date back to the mid 16th century and the dawn of the modern scientific thought. Concentrating on but not limited to Dutch contributions to the sciences, the museum traces the development of both the mainstreams and the byways of scientific and medical experimentation and practice through to the 20th century. Its collection has many highlights: the largest herberium in the world, Willem Blaeu’s giant quadrant, microscopes by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and clocks by Christiaan Huygens, Dr Zander’s physiotherapeutic devices and papier-mâché anatomical models. It has a huge library specializing in the history of the natural sciences and medicine. And a print collection. But the crown of the collection is the Anatomical Theatre.

This, it must be admitted is not the original 1594 theatre. It is, in fact, a reconstruction – indeed, a reconstruction of Swanenburg’s 1910 engraving, complete with the skeletal memento mori and with a wax anatomical model on the cutting table (as above). Even better it, and all the other exhibition spaces – 24 in all – can be visited via QTVR panoramas.

THE Museum of Dust, you will remember, just last week collected a copy of the Swanenburg’s engraving. It was of extraordinary interest to us, and to all our allies, because it is the first evidence that we have confirming the continuing existence of the Skin Armor.*1

W. Swanenburg: Anatomical theatre in Leiden, engraving (after a drawing by Woudanus), 1610.

This armor that mysteriously disappeared from Musrum’s Iron Castle during the Weedking’s incursion in 1914. I am determined to find it. It will make a fitting centerpiece for my museum. It will demonstrate to everyone, to all those mockers and nay-sayers, that my museum really is world-class. Top-notch. A must see. So these virtual rooms are perfect! They have allowed me to thoroughly case the place in preparation for my forthcoming mission. Now I’ll be ready, just as soon as I’ve raised enough money to cover expenses, to go to the museum and thoroughly search the building for any signs of the armor and any information about its current whereabouts. I intend to question anyone who might know anything. I will not rest. If there is a shred of skin there to find, I WILL find it. And thanks to those helpful QTVR panoramas, I won’t have to waste any time searching in displays that are obviously unrelated.

*Note to self – MUST get that fundraising drive happening. What are Administration doing! That’s really their job to see to…

*1 See previous exhibit :: The Bone Room :: Leiden Anatomical Theatre>>


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