History of Anatomy

The first section of the PLASTINARIUM deals with the beginnings of anatomy.

It showcases the revolutionary importance of anatomy for medical progress and the influence that renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci had on the field. I a comprehensive picture atlas, he published the realistic anatomy and popularized it by public dissections, as Gunther von Hagens did it in London in 2002.
Anatomy is the oldest scientific discipline in medicine.

In this area, you will also learn about the history of preservation methods. The purpose of preservation is to maintain and keep fixed specimens long-term.

The best known methods, which were used by most anatomical institutes as early as around 1900, are fixation with formalin and preservation in alcohol. Such wet specimens, however, will loose their color and will quickly dry up. The oldest method of preservation is slow drying. In 1927, soaking in paraffin was introduced as an improved method for the manufacturing of dry specimens. In the 1950s, embedding specimens in clear blocks of resin was developed.


Eight horse`s heads illustrate a comparison of dry preservation methods, from a water-dried specimen, to a paraffin  specimen, to a block embedded specimen, and finally to the silicone plastinate.

Dr. Gunther von Hagens developed the Plastination technique at the University of Heidelberg`s Institute of Anatomy in 1977, patented it between 1977 and 1982, and have been continually improving the process ever since.

Dr. von Hagens`invention of Plastination marks the highest achievement in dissection and preservation to date.