The Human Anatomy Collection

last modified Sep 25, 2018 03:29 PM


Claudius Galenus, Opera, Venetiis, apud Iuntas, 1609.

This outstanding collection, consisting of 245 items  dating from the 16th to the 19th century, testify the development of medical sciences, mainly human anatomy, at the old Faculty of Arts and Medicine of the University of Ferrara. Examen omnium simplicium medicamentorum by Antonio Musa Brasavola (Venezia, Vincenzo Valgrisi, 1539) is one of the highlights of the collection, that includes also works on specific topics, such as the conservation of human body specimen, teratology and pathological anatomy (Epistolae anatomicae duae by Giovanni Battista Morgagni (Leida, Johannes van Kerckhem, 1728), as well as anatomy books and precious atlases, such as Icones anatomicae by Leopoldo Marco Antonio e Floriano Caldani (1801-1814), whose big sized plates are amazing artistic works.  Techniques used in anatomical diagnosis are also dealt with in works such as  il Trattato di antropotomia by Angelo Dubini(Milano, Molina, 1837) e il Cours de microscopie by Alfred Donné (Parigi, Baillière, 1844).The collection was originally part of the Institute of Human Anatomy’s Library and relocated in  2010 at the Humanities Library, where it could be better taken care of.  Between 2012 and 2015 all volumes were catalogued, paying special attention to copy-specific data (hand-written notes, book-plates, bindings etc.) and data are now searchable in our local (BiblioFE) and National Italian (SBN) online catalogues, thus making all books available to users, both academic staff and students for research and educational purposes, and all other interested users round the world.

Since 2013 restoration works have been undertaken for some items in bad conditions, first of all the most precious ones, such as Tabulae Anatomicae by Justus Christian von Loder (Weimar, Industrie-Comptoir, 1794-1803) and Anatomia per vso et intelligenza del disegno by Bernardino Genga (Roma, Domenico De Rossi, 1691); the latter’s restoration is also the subject of a documentary video (2016).

Some of the best images in this collection can be see in another video (Let’s promote the University of Ferrara valuable treasures - The art of rare book cataloguing, 2016) and the have also been used as decorations for a set of heritage-inspired gifts (bookmarks, cards, notebooks etc.) produced for promotional events.


The collection is available at: Biblioteca di Lettere e Filosofia map


Silvano CAPITANI, Francesco RASPADORI, Dipartimento di morfologia ed embriologia: sezione di anatomia umana normale: biblioteca ‘fondo antico’, in Verso un museo delle scienze: orto botanico, musei e collezioni storico-scientifiche dell’Università di Ferrara, a cura di Carmela Loriga, «Annali dell’Università di Ferrara», volume speciale (2001), pp. 71-78.

Books restoration

Loans for exhibitions

2016 - The body unveiled - Art, Anatomy and Obstetrics in 18th century anatomical wax models (Ferrara, Sistema Museale di Ateneo, 20 settembre - 11 novembre 2016)

Andreas Vesalius, Anatomia (Venezia, Giovanni Antonio & Giacomo De Franceschi, 1604) - inv. 91818 e SNI 330