The Anatomical Museum (Anatomisches Museum) of the University of Basel dates back to the acquisitional activities of Carl Gustav Jung in the 1820s. As the Collection of Pathology and Anatomy (Pathologisch-Anatomische Sammlung), it moved into its own building in 1880. Two especially significant objects in this collection are the oldest anatomical specimen in the world (prepared by Andreas Vesalius in Basel in 1543) and a skeleton prepared by Felix Platter in 1573. (Suggested by William Thirteen)
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (Orienienburg, Germany)
A Morbid Must-See!
I visited this compelling concentration camp in the former East Germany in the summer of 2014 with a couple of friends who are of the non-morbid persuasion. I didn’t think they’d be very interested, so I tried to be polite and only allowed a few hours for the visit. As it turned out, they were every bit as fascinated by this tragic site as I was and we all wished that we’d had a full day to explore. They have done an incredible job of reconstructing the horror of life and death in the camp via first person accounts and memorabilia, with an especially huge collection of medical history memorabilia. I highly recommend that if you go, you allot a full day and get there early!
The account of my visit can be read on my Forlorn Photography site:
Wolhusen Mortuary Chapel (Lucerne, Switzerland)
“If you wander the streets of Lucerne, you’ll doubtlessly cross the Spreuer Bridge at some point. It’s probably one of Switzerland’s most notable series of Totentanz (Dance of Death) paintings with 45 of the original 67 panels still intact. However, 20 kilometers outside the city, in the quiet suburb of Wolhusen, one of the most unique Dance Of Death paintings is housed in an unassuming mortuary chapel. What makes it so special is that there are actual human skulls set into the plaster of the large mural that circles around the ceiling.” (Thanks to Howard for the tip.)
Visit the home base of “Body Worlds” – where the plastination of the bodies takes place! Apparently, you can even help out with some of the dissection. Be still my morbid heart! The next time I’m in Germany, this is a must-see! (Thanks to The Dickeys for letting me know about this place.)
Museum of Sepulchral Culture (Kassel, Germany)
This sounds like a goth dream come true! A museum that blends death-themed modern art with ancient coffins, tombstones, hearses, framed death notices, memorial photography, embalming equipment, mourning clothing, etc. Here’s an article that goes into greater depth on this fascinating museum:
German Museum of Death Anything But Morbid
Thanks to Steve ORourke for the link.
The Museum of Criminal Anthropology (Turin, Italy)
In 1876 Cesare Lombroso, a forty-year-old former army surgeon and the medical superintendent of a lunatic asylum at Pesaro in northern Italy, published a treatise on criminal man, L’Uomo Delinquente, which claimed that his lifetime study of more than 6000 criminals had shown that they tended to possess certain well-developed physical characteristics. In Lombroso’s view, habitual criminals tended to have wide jaws, high cheekbones, long arms, and large ears (approximately square in shape), as well as an unusually narrow field of vision. In 1898, Lombroso founded this museum under the name “the Museum of Psychiatry and Criminology” to display his collections. There are 400 skulls in his collection, Also on show are drawings, photos, criminal evidence, anatomical sections of “madmen and criminals” and work produced by criminals in the last century. The exhibits also include the Gallows of Turin, which were in use until the city’s final hanging in 1865. And, best of all, Lombroso’s own head is on display in a jar!
Merry Cemetery (Sapanta, Romania)
Per Wikipedia: “The Merry Cemetery is a cemetery in the village of Sapânta, Maramures county, Romania. It is famous for its colorful tombstones with native paintings describing, in an original and poetic manner, the persons that are buried there as well as scenes from their lives.” Looks like a fun place to visit if you’re ever in the area. Thanks to Ms Jukes for the suggestion.
Auschwitz-Birkenau (Oswiecim, Poland)
The infamous Nazi death camp where over 1 million people met their demise. This is #1 on my Bucket List and I’m hoping to be able to visit next year. If I do, I will write up a travelogue for you all and take lots of pictures.
Also see: Last Expression
Torture Museum (San Gimignano, Italy)
Alf provides an excellent pictorial exploration of this most tremendous Italian museum – which collects torture and execution equipment used throughout history. I happened to catch a travelling exhibition of only a few selections from this museum – and believe me, the wince-factor is HIGH!
Cemetery of the Capuchins (Rome, Italy)
Chris wrote to recommend this unbelievably beautiful chapel which is decorated with the bones of Capuchin Monks. As described in the website linked to the left: “The crypt is located just under Santa Maria della Concezione, a church commissioned by Pope Urban XIII in 1626. The pope’s brother, Cardinal Antonio Barberini, who was of the Capuchin order, in 1631 ordered the remains of thousands of Capuchin monks exhumed and transferred from the friary Via dei Lucchesi to the crypt. The crypt now contains the remains of 4,000 monks buried between 1500-1870, during which time the Papal States permitted burial in and under churches. The underground crypt is divided into five chapels lit only by dim natural light seeping in through cracks, and small fluorescent lamps which cast strange shadows.” Definitely a must-see when in Rome!