The Amsterdam Anatomy Museum is Not For The Weak

Museums are an excellent way to experience and enjoy the various cultural collections of a country, town, or university. The pieces laid out in museums are often seen as treasures that would be passed on through generations. The objects and artifacts are conserved by museum curators for their historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural importance. There are various types of museums that suit the values and interests of people. However, there is a museum in Amsterdam that is not for the fainthearted. Its name is the Museum Vrolik – a small museum of the anatomy located inside the Amsterdam Medical Center which is a part of the University of Amsterdam.

The Amsterdam Anatomy Museum is Not For The Weak
The Amsterdam Anatomy Museum is Not For The Weak

About the Museum Vrolik

Other than the unique location of the museum, Museum Vrolik is also one-of-a-kind because of the collection that is exhibited inside it. The Museum Vrolik has been announced as not for very young children and adults with a delicate or sensitive constitution for it houses embryological and anatomical specimens numbered at 10,000. These pieces particularly highlight congenital disabilities. These are physical abnormalities or diseases that are present from birth. The museum has been named after former professors of Anatomy in Amsterdam: Gerard Vrolik and his son who also took on the field, Willem Vrolik.

The two professors were both interested in gaining a better understanding of the natural forces that influence growth and development, especially the malformation of human beings. For this reason, they have amassed a private collection of anatomical specimens in their home, which was then called the Museum Vrolikianum. When the father and son had passed away, their collection was donated in Amsterdam’s Athenaeum Ilustre, the predecessor of the present University of Amsterdam. This was done through the wealthy benefactors of the college. The current Museum Vrolik was opened to the public in 1984 as part of the Amsterdam Medical Hospital.

Inside the Museum Vrolik

Museum Vrolik is the home to a wide variety of animal and human skeletons in its collection. Some of the bones were collected from people who have suffered from diseases such as tuberculosis and rickets, which were commonplace during the previous 18th and 19th centuries. Aside from the bones, there are also displays of human organs such as heart, lungs, urinary tracts and genitals, brains and spinal cords, and pieces of the digestive system. However, one of the most unusual objects belonging to the collection are the embryos preserved in colorful liquids in transparent glass jars. The development of the embryos can be studied from the displays and can have a really striking effect on its audience as most of them display the symptoms of congenital diseases.

The fetuses displayed have skull and brain abnormalities, sirenomelia or Mermaid syndrome, umbilical hernia, dwarfism, and even some Siamese twins. The preservation techniques used in the museum specimens were developed way back in the 17th century by Frederik Ruysch. He was an anatomist from Amsterdam who pioneered the process of preservation using spirits. The methods that followed even allowed for improved conservation of specimens for studying the preserved organs and tissues. The Museum Vrolik may not be for all, but it can be a beneficial trip for medical students and scientists. They offer guided tours for visitors, but they have to be booked two weeks in advance. They also have a small souvenir shop and a café on the premises.

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