Papier-M?ch? Anatomical Models

Papier-M?ch? Anatomical ModelsOnline companion site for an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

People have always sought better ways to illustrate and understand the structure and functions of the internal body. Before the discovery of x-rays in 1895, the only practical way to see inside the human body was to observe an operation or a dissection. Cultural and religious beliefs about dissection often made the practice illegal, and even when dissection was acceptable, cadavers were difficult to obtain.

“Moreover, lack of refrigeration meant that bodies decayed swiftly. Dissections had to be performed during the cooler months, and were impossible in warmer climates. Frustrated in his studies, a young French medical student devised an elegant solution — papier-mâché anatomical models.

Site includes a brief overview of anatomical education methods and a gallery page with enough material to give a sense of how much detail the creators were able to squeeze from this decidedly low-tech raw material.