When I arrived in Camucia on Sunday, Amie mentioned that everyone was excited about going to La Specola to see the Wax Anatomical Models. Oh, won't poor Dr. Marta Poggesi be suprised when, instead of two people, there's a whole group. No problem, it should make our visit all the more memorable to her. *g*
The anatomy pieces are actually just a small part of the zoological display they have there. They have many, many preserved animals dating to the 17thC so there was a little of Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe to the museum. There was little or no effort to show the habitat of animals that is a popular form of display in american museums. That made the display all the more impressive with cases and cases of birds, fish, insects, large and small animals.
During our walk through, an older man who worked there asked us, "How did you learn about this? No one comes here!" Then came the real question, "Why?". Indeed, why would six loud Americans come to a part of Florence that most people just pass through. Why would they find their way through the parking garage and up three flights of stairs to visit a museum with 250 year old displays?
We came for the wax collection. Wow. While they allow photographing (sans flash) of the rest of the displays, they do not allow any photographing of the wax models. While I have a copy of the Taschen book of the models, there is nothing quite like being able to see the displays from a variety of angles and truely appreciate the meticulous detail and huge amount of effort that each piece required. The pieces showing the lymphatic system or the circulation were stunning, I found the one piece that showed a fetus in the womb with a translucent layer just as impressive. I have had a chance to see the Body World exhibit and I can honestly tell you that these models looked very, very close to the corpses Dr. Haagen displays.
After our walk through, we meet with Dr. Marta Poggesi who turned out to speak not much English so she called one of her students to come help. We got to hear a few additional stories such as how one of the displays of a torso was the winning entry of a competition seeking out new wax artists. Celmente Susini, who you can read about on the La Specola site, did that whole torso model himself. We also learned that the cases, including some of the glass, in which each set of models is displayed are the original cases. We thanked Dr. Pogessi and her student for their time and left to explore Florence our seprate ways.