Museo di Anatomia umana
Corso Massimo D’Azeglio 52, Torino
The origins of the Anatomy Museum date back to 1739, when professor Gian Battista Bianchi developed the project for the Royal University Museum.
In 1898, after many removals, the anatomic collections were placed into their current seat in Corso Massimo D’Azeglio.
This is the only scientific museum in Turin which is still displayed in rooms and with mountings dating back to the 19th century.
A science cathedral with a portrait gallery made up of eleven lunettes containing oils on canvas painted by Pasquale Baroni from Pavia between the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century.
Between the end of the 17th century and the half of the 20th century, because of the problems concerning the preservation of corpses and the objections moved by the clergy against their use for scientific purposes, “artificial” anatomy was developed. The waxworks collection of the Museum consists of more than two hundred pieces.
This anatomic statue was made after the model of one of the two wooden “flayed men” bearing the baldachin of the desk in the old Anatomic Theatre of the Archiginnasio in Bologna.
Displayed in two different showcases, they symbolize the interest in the human variability. The first one is the skeleton of Giacomo Borghello, born in 1810 and dead at the age of nineteen. He was 2.19 tall, and his corpse was moved into the Museum by the order of the Reform Magistrate. About the dwarf’s skeleton no information has been found yet.
Valuable neoclassic piece of furniture made from pear wood around 1880, it is a holder for specimens filled in more than three hundreds drawers.
A collection made up of more than eight hundreds dry-preserved human brains are displayed in the four showcases in Rolando room (Sala Rolando).
It is a technique defined by Carlo Giacomini in 1878.
In the first step the cerebral substance gets hardened by immersing it into zinc chloride. In the second step the hardened brain got immersed into glycerin, a substance which preserves the features of preparations over time.
This collections used to have a particolar meaning in the scientific environment of Turin at the end of the 19th century. Cesare Lombroso had developed some theories about delinquents and about the relation between deviant behaviors and anatomic anomalies. Such theories were disclaimed by Giacomini’s researches.
In one of the showcases in the Museum one of the most important existing collection is displayed: due to the high number of skulls of individuals of different sex and ages, it represents a very important reference series at international level.
Gifted to the Museum by the Academy of Medicine in 1913, it consists of the “phrenological heads” of Gall, the founder of the discipline, and of plaster casts of skulls and heads of famous people.
Among them you can admire Raphael, Napoleon, prince of Talleyrand and famous criminals like Giorgio Orsolano aka “the hyena of San Giorgio Canavese”. In 1835 Giorgio Orsolano was publicly hanged after he had confessed that he had killed and cut to pieces young girls to make sausages to sell in his butchery.
Carlo Giacomini was born in Sale di Alessandria in 1840. Doctor of Medicine and Surgery, he entered upon the anatomic carrier and developed technical procedures concerning the study and preservation of all organs. He died in 1898; his skeleton was prepared and displayed in the museum after his testamentary will. By the skeleton’s feet there is his brain, prepared after the technique that he defined.