Photographs and drawings from the anatomical collection of
Academic Medical Center,
Universiteit van Amsterdam
The Museum Vrolik is centered on the tremendous number of objects collected by Gerardus Vrolik (1775-1859) and his son, Willem Vrolik (1801-1863) —
both of whom served as professors of anatomy at Athenaeum Illustre, the forerunner to the University of Amsterdam. Gerardus began amassing his thousands of
anatomical, botanical and zoological specimens in 1795, which Willem later continued to add onto and distill into academic categories. This private collection came to be known as
Willem Vrolik was a pioneer in the field of teratology (the study of “monsters”) — which had been systematized by Vrolik's French contemporaries, the anatomists Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772-1844) and
Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1805-1861). Willem published several monographs on teratological subjects, but is best remembered for his Handboek der ziektekundige ontleedkunde (Handbook of Pathological Anatomy, 1842) and
Tabulae ad illustrandam embryogenesin hominis et mammalium tam naturalem quam abnormem (Plates illustrative of Normal and Abnormal Embryogenesis of Man and the Mammalia, 1844-1849), the latter of which earned Vrolik a
prize from France's Académie des Sciences.
When Willem Vrolik died, the collection he and his father had worked so long to assemble was threatened with dispersal through public sale. However, a committee of concerned
Amsterdam citizens managed to purchase the collection in its entirety, and then donated it to the department of anatomy of Athenaeum Illustre in 1869. There it continued to instruct generations
of medical students. Over the years several more collections joined the original Vrolik specimens. Since 1994, 150 specimens of congenital abnormalities have been on public display at the Academic Medical Center.
Special thanks to Dr. Roelof-Jan Oostra, curator of Museum Vrolik, who allowed me to work with this fantastic collection.
Hydrocephalic, ink drawing
detail: Hydrocephalic, ink drawing
Ramus profundus nervi ulnaris
No. 679, ink and ink wash drawing
Amorphus, ink drawing
All drawings and photographs by James G. Mundie.
[Reproduction in any form without express written permission
of the artist is prohibited.]
All Images and Text © James G. Mundie 2008 - 2015