Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wunderkammer :: I say 'Teratology' Inky says 'Monsters'


Another must-have museum! With collections like the Hovius collection of bone pathology, the Bolk-Woerdeman collection of anatomy and congenital anomalies, and the Grevers collection of dental pathology, not to mention the collection of specimens with urogenital pathology and congenital anomalies donated by the old Amsterdam plague hospital, the Wilhelmina Gast Huis, added to the core anatomical collection of by Gerardus Vrolik (1775–1859) and his son Willem Vrolik’s teratological additions, the Museum Vrolik has it all.

Especially if ‘all’ means babies in jars, people’s faces in jars, and bits and pieces of sundry body parts… in jars.



Of course, my interest is in the anomalies – specifically the state of the 19th century art teratological collection. Willem Vrolik (1801-1863) was a pioneer in the field of teratology (or what Inky calls ‘monsters.’ He’s a very un-reconstructed arachnid!). Inspired by his father Gerard Vrolik, Willem, at the age of 16, commenced his academic career at the Athenaeum Illustre, the predecessor of the University of Amsterdam. There he was attracted to what would become the two main topics of his scientific research: comparative zoology and teratology.


His experience in teratology culminated in three extensive essays, on cyclopia (1834), on the pathogenesis of congenital anomalies (1838), and on conjoined twins (1840), which formed the overture for his magnum opus on teratology titled “Handboek der ziektekundige ontleedkunde” (Handbook of pathological anatomy; 1842, 1844) and for the “Tabulae ad illustrandam embryogenesin hominis et mammalium tam naturalem quam abnormem” (1844-1849). He added more than 500 teratological specimens to the collection, most of which remain in the museum today.

Museum Address
Museum Vrolik
Faculteit der Geneeskunde
Academisch Medisch Centrum (AMC)
Meibergdreef 15
1105 AZ Amsterdam

The Vrolik is located at the Academic Medical Center, Meibergdreef 15, 1105 AZ Amsterdam. It is on the outskirts of town. To get to the AMC from Amsterdam proper, take the 54 Metro from Centraal Station to Holendrecht. On your left as you pull up to the station is a very large complex; this is the AMC. Footpaths lead from the Metro station directly to the hospital. The Vrolik is located in Building J0 and a map can be obtained from any of the helpful information desks in the hospital.
Vrolik museum >>

If you can’t see the collection in the flesh, there may be no better way than the wonderful collection of photographs taken by ellipses.

See ellipses' entire photographic Vrolik collection >>

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