From Body Preservation to Pathology Museums in Italy: Conservation and Modern Value of a Historical and Biological Archive


  • Luisa Ferrari Department of Pathology, Cardinal Massaja Hospital, Asti. Departments of Oncology, Pathology Unit, University of Turin


Pathology Museum, Paleopathology, Re-evaluation, Modern Techniques, Conservation


Pathology Museums in Italy are particularly relevant to cultural heritage. Most of the specimens stored in these Museums date back to the beginning of the XIX century. The samples stored in Pathology Museums include the collections of waxwork models of dry and wet specimens.Waxwork modelling of specimens was a method of restoration and preservation. Their importance is priceless because the methods of conservation avoided damaging the specimens, which had previously been a fundamental problem. This was especially the case in the preservation of wet specimens and their fluids. The waxwork specimens are not only of immense historical value but are also of great interest in paleopathology, shining a light on the history of many diseases which have now disappeared. The study of these significant pathological specimens using modern techniques in Pathology, such as immunohistochemistry or molecular biology, can help us understand both old and present-day illnesses and their pathomorphosis as well. Pathology Museums are, of course, of extreme importance in terms of teaching Pathology to students, but are also of value in terms of general education. For these reasons, Pathology Museums should be safeguarded and regenerated.