Anatomical Preparations in Museums. A Special Category of Cultural Heritage


  • Francesca Monza University Museum, Department of Medicine and Science of Aging, "G. D'Annunzio" University, Chieti and Pescara
  • Marta Licata Department of Biotechnology and Life Sciences, University of Insubria, Varese


Anatomical Preparations, Human Remains, Anatomical Museums, Cultural Heritage


The international debate on the issue of human remains in museums and on the ethical issues related to their exhibition stimulates reflection on the Italian anatomical collections and on their preparations. A definition of human remains or of anatomical preparation does not exist in the Italian legislation. The anatomical specimens in museums are protected by the laws of Cultural Heritage as part of public collections, but their status is not well defined. By their nature of human material they would in fact be considered as a special category of Cultural Heritage. Because they are part of a cadaver they can be regarded as res nullius, but since treated with special techniques they could also change their meaning and being considered a species nova. Finally, it reflects on the possibility of creating a museum in Italy composed by new anatomical preparations.      The article outline the contours of a museological issue that deserves to be investigated in order to better identify the anatomical preparations and their management in museums.