University Medical Center Göttingen
Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine
- Library and medical history collections -

Humboldtallee 36
37073 Göttingen

Tuesday and Thursday  9 a.m. til 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.  til 4 p.m.
Mi.  9 a.m. til 1 p.m.

Kornelia Drost-Siemon
Tel.: +49 551 39-9007
E-Mail: Kornelia Drost-Siemon
Collections Website

Moulages are meticulously formed wax casts of body parts and areas of skin that have undergone changes as a result of disease. Illustrating  a broad range of dermatological disorders, the Göttingen Collection of Moulages goes back to Professor Erhard Riecke (1869 1939), Director of Göttingen University’s Department of Dermatology, which was set up in 1917. The approximately 80 moulages preserved from the teaching collection were prepared during the first third of the 20th century, by August Leonhardt (1891 1954), mouleur at the Department of Dermatology, and internationally reputed wax craftsmen and women such as Luise (Lotte) Volger (1883 1956), Alfons Kröner (d. 1937), Fritz Kolbow (1873 1946) and Carl Henning (1860 1917).

The aim of the craftsperson was to reproduce in wax the form, colour and texture of the affected body part as accurately as possible, with a view to documenting the diagnostic findings. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that photography replaced moulages as demonstration material in teaching. The casts were taken directly from the patient so that the three-dimensional reproductions convey – even today – a uniquely vivid clinical picture of historical and existent diseases. It is this extreme closeness to reality that renders the moulages so valuable for current didactic purposes, with the result that they have once again become important tools in clinical teaching.

Since 2011 these unique objects have been accessible to the general public in a permanent exhibition. This is based on the special exhibition WachsBildKörper (WaxImageBody) that was presented by the Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine in cooperation with the Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology and the Municipal Museum (Städtisches Museum, 2007). The exhibition took as its central theme the ‘historical patient’ behind the wax casts and the central importance of the skin as a human being’s outer shell.

Kornelia Drost-Siemon & Susanne Ude-Koeller

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