La-Specola

The Most Hannibal Lecter Place in All of Florence (Probably)

La Specola is a part of the Museum of Natural History in Florence that houses (in addition to 24 rooms of taxidermied animals, including a hippopotamus) 10 rooms of wax anatomical models from the 18th and 19th centuries.  

Control your boner, Doctor Lecter.

Also, there’s an entire section devoted to Galileo and it’s cool as heck, I mean, look at this:

Are you seeing those frescoes???  That skylight???  

This is the kind of place Hannibal has wet dreams about, and this is just the beginning.  

WARNING: PICTURES UNDER THE CUT ARE GRAPHIC (GROSS AND NSFW) BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE JUST MAX PEOPLE THEY LOOK HELLA REAL, SO ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK MY FRIEND

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In the eighteenth century, a less gross form of anatomy marked the beginning of a scientific enlightenment in Italy: the anatomical wax model. The Specola collection of anatomical waxes opened to the public in 1775, and with the blessing of a scientifically-minded Pope, societies and lectures opened up new opportunities for public education across class and gender lines. Wax anatomists had to be both incredibly well-versed in medicine and incredibly skilled at sculpture, and few were as talented as Anna Morandi Manzolini (1714-1774, whose extraordinary life and work have been recently collected in Rebecca Messbarger‘s The Lady Anatomist.

When she married at twenty-six, Morandi had been trained as a professional artist and could also read and write Latin, the language of academia. She entered into the world of the university as the wife of a professor of anatomy, and when he died of tuberculosis in 1755, Anna, a widow with two children, stepped into her husband’s former teaching position at the University of Bologna, continuing his studies and establishing an anatomical laboratory that even caught the attention of Russia’s Catherine the Great.

“Medical Venuses” were a popular attraction among the anatomical wax models of the day, life-size figures of reclining, naked women, sometimes wearing pearls, whose stomachs were flayed to reveal the female reproductive system. Instead, Morandi tore away the fig leaf of the opposite sex, mastering the anatomy of the male reproductive system.

Morandi was bold enough to cast her own wax portrait as “The Lady Anatomist,” a richly dressed lady, fingers hovering over a freshly opened brain like it was a breakfast of hard boiled egg.

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