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History Preservation Collection Body Parts
Before Papier-Mache
What is Papier-Mache?
Comparative Anatomy
Learning Anatomy in the 20th Century
Photograph of a life-size anatomical man (front) Photograph of a life-size anatomical man (back)
  Life-size anatomical model of a man, front view, 1893   Anatomical model, posterior view
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.
...instrumental to the student whose repugnance to the dissecting room is difficult to overcome... and to all those out of the profession who wish to become acquainted with the mechanism of the human frame. -Catalogue, Preparations of Artificial Anatomy By Dr. Auzoux, 1841
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