History of the Museum of Anatomy

Museum of Anatomy

The Museum of Anatomy of the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, was founded in 1877 by Professor Damianos Georgios Draskas, who was Macedonian. It was first situated in a small old building, which had an one and only theater, for two anatomical tables. The great benefactor George Sinas, in 1833, donated to the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens a skeleton and a series of dry adult skulls, while George Manousis donated an optical microscope.

A: The Museum of Anatomy of the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens as founded in 1902
B, C, D: views from the current exhibits (2012)

King Otto provided the famous anatomical maps of Weber and Mascagni. Professor Georgiou founded the “Anatomical Fund” and collected various surgical instruments and anatomical maps from abroad. The rarity of the cadaveric material forced Georgiou to create dry specimens by himself, by means of injecting into the vascular system a colored mixture of wax, animal fat and vegetable resins. The dehydration of the corpse was achieved by immersing it in a solution of ethyl alcohol and passing it with varnish.

A, B: Cadaveric preparations of the heart and D, E: of the extremity of the hand
C: Case of extremity in a specimen from a teratological collection G.: Doubling of the head in a lamb

During the academic year 1872-1873, Professor Georgiou received from Paris anatomical models made by Louis Auzoux and in 1883 the University bought the famous collection of Konstantinos Valsamakis, Professor of the Ionian Academy. The Valsamaki collection is a rare collection of wooden bone models by the anatomist Felice Fontana (1730-1805) from Florence. The contents of the Valsamaki collection are: Miniatures of wooden statues depicting human muscles, wooden bone sculptures, wooden skulls of adults and minors, representations of vertebrae and spinal cord created with wax, plaster and flax molds. Of particular interest is a wax model of an unknown artist representing the female urogenital system (retroperitoneal imaging and imaging of the internal and external genitalia, with a portion of the pregnant uterus).

A-D: The collection of Konstantinos Valsamakis
E: Kidneys and uroliths, donated by urology professor Aristidis Giannopoulos

Professor Loukas Papaioannou, in 1887, created a meticulous embryological collection. Rigas Nikolaidis (1856-1928) and his assistant Karzis prepared dry models of muscles, vessels and nerves of the upper and lower limbs in the area of the head and neck. Nikolaidis also created incredible specimens of the trigeminal and the facial nerve. Nikolaidis enriched the Museum of Anatomy, with anatomical maps (depicting the origin and overgrowth of muscles and the course of nerves), with a complete embryological collection and some important anatomical variations, such as the right subclavian artery abnormality, the inner jaw anomaly as well as with abnormalities of the broad dorsal and biceps brachii muscle. George Sklavounos (1868-1954) used the pyrographic technique to describe the adhesion of the muscles to the bones, representing the cauterized points which were the points of attachment of the muscles. Professor Epameinondas Katritsis organized the Anatomical Museum and in 1989, Professor Vlachos enriched the Museum with specimens of brain and spinal cord. In 1992, Professor Nikolaos Papadopoulos (1992-2004) classified all the collected material of the Museum. With his own actions the Museum was modernized and was renovated. The corner of the famous author, the academic Antonis Samarakis was created after the donation of his body to the Department of Anatomy of the University of Athens.

A, B: Models of Louis Auzoux, C: Wax models by Felice Fontana
D: Old surgical instruments Professor of Urology Aristides Giannopoulos donated a rare collection of uroliths and nephroliths
E: Plastic model of the eyeball

In 2010, the Head of the Department of Anatomy, Professor Panagiotis Skandalakis, renovated the Museum. Nowadays, the Museum includes a rich collection of dry normal bones and abnormal bones (dysplastic, osteoporotic bones, partially or completely ossified in the area of their joints), dry bones with abnormalities (inoculated bones, ossifications of joints and skulls with auxiliary incisions), fixed in formaldehyde from human or animal tissues. Wax, wood and plastic anatomical models are also found. Two hundred (200) dry normal and pathological skulls of the Caucasian breed and 10 dry normal animal skulls are also on display at the Museum. A large part of the Museum includes sections of brain, parts of brain and spinal cord suitable for the meticulous study of the central nervous system (CNS). Exquisite exhibits are the skeletons of a giant, an achondroplasty dwarf, a skeleton with severe scoliosis and another with multiple exoskeletons. Preserved exhibits (in a solution of ethyl alcohol and formaldehyde), dried specimens and others preserved by injection with wax or other substances, are sufficient for the emergence of venous, drainage, arterial irrigation and equally for the lymphatic system. In addition, there is a teratological collection of abnormal fetuses with fissures, heart malformations and other serious structural and embryological abnormalities. In another distinguished place of the Museum there is a rich collection of old surgical instruments and various microscopes. The Museum also exhibits specimens from different parts of the human body (ears, nose, tongue, larynx, pharynx, heart, lungs, female genitals and fetus). In conclusion, the anatomical collection includes more than 800 specimens. About 60 of them highlight congenital abnormalities of human and animal fetuses. The Museum is expected to open its doors to the public by the end of December 2016.

Contact information

Head, Professor: Theodore Troupis E-mail: ttroupis@adoa.gr, Tel. +30210-7462430
Address: Athens Medical School, M. Asia 75 Goudi, 11527
Tel: +30210-746 2304-5

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