Anatomical Theatre: Depictions of the Body, Disease, and Death in Medical Museums of the Western World
Anatomical Theatre is a photographic exhibition documenting artifacts collected by and exhibited in medical museums throughout Europe and the United States. The objects in these photos range from preserved human remains to models made from ivory, wax, and papier mâché. The artifacts span from the 16th Century to the 20th, and include examples from a wide range of countries, artists, and preparators.
The photographs in this exhibition were taken by Joanna Ebenstein, a New York-based photographer and designer, on the course of a one-month pilgrimage to the famed medical museums of the Western World. On the course of the trip, she visited museums in England, Scotland, Hungary, Italy, Austria, The Netherlands, and the United States (see full list of museums here); at each, she interviewed curators or keepers, and photographed both behind-the-scenes and in the museum exhibit areas.
Anatomical Theatre is a traveling exhibition; it debuted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences in September 2007. It was supported in part by a Reynolds Associates Research Fellowship in the History of the Health Sciences fellowship. Its next destination has yet to be determined.
THE PHOTOGRAPHER WOULD LIKE TO THANK: Heather Chaplin, Tara Cunningham, James Edmonson, Richard Faulk, Megan Fitzpatrick, Michael Flannery, Pam Grossman, Eric Huang, Laura Lindgren, Susannah McDonald, Evan Michelson, Mike Johns, Gerard Newland, Rosamond Purcell, Stefanie Rookis, Michael Sappol, Gretchen Worden, as well as the curators at all the museums I visited who so graciously opened their institutions to me and my camera.
MASTHEAD IMAGE: W. Swanenburg: Anatomical theater in Leiden, engraving (after drawing by Woudanus), 1610
All contents copyright of Joanna Ebenstein, 2008.