Anthropology - pathologic-anatomical collection

Natural History Museum Vienna

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Electronic database / Collection

Short Description

The pathologic-anatomical collection was founded in 1796 by Johann Peter Frank (1745−1821), director of the General Hospital of Vienna. With the imperial decree of 1811, every patient who died in the hospital had to be autopsied, a protocol had to be made and the scientifically interesting specimens found during the autopsy had to be kept. Especially Carl Rokitansky (1804-1878), professor for pathological anatomy, purposefully added to the collection as he considered it indispensable for scientific work. It was kept as an institute collection until 1974 when it was transformed into a federal museum. This allowed the integration of other hospital collections, today it houses more than 50,000 preparations. These include many first descriptions of diseases such as arhinencephaly (the lack of the olfactory brain) by Johann Kundrat (1845-1893) in 1882. In addition to teaching purposes, the preparations are still used for scientific studies today. Since collection and documentation has been carried out for over 200 years, projects on the evolution of diseases are of particular interest. The objects can also be used for comparison purposes. The documentation of the preparations through autopsy records and patient histories has always been important, so essential data such as age, gender or other illnesses of the deceased patient are available. The collection is divided into several areas: wet specimens preserved in formalin, dry specimens such as bones, moulages (wax casts) of diseased body parts, autopsy records and medical files, as well as a collection of histological specimens.

Contact Person

Eduard Winter

Research Services

We kindly ask to contact us with cooperation proposals.

Methods & Expertise for Research Infrastructure

Scientific investigations on pathological body parts with known provenience are possible. For detailed studies sampling of the specimens can be done in the collection. Research on case reports or medical history topics are also possible.

Allocation to Core Facility

Department of Anthropology, Natural History Museum Vienna

Access for scientists by appointment.
Medical institutions