Javier Puerta Museum of Anatomy
Faculty of Medicine
The museum is currently made up of three main collections:
The Wax Polychrome Sculpture Collection of the Italian school of the late 18th century (created by Cháez and Franceschi), which includes an extraordinary series of anatomical wax models that represent various stages of pregnancy from conception to childbirth.
The Plaster Polychrome Sculpture Collection, which represents human body-parts as well as several surgery techniques.
The Bone Collection, which represent the diverse stages during and after pregnancy. The signficant “Olariz Collection” contains thousands of skulls and two well preserved skeletons. One skeleton is called “Gigante extremeño” ("The Extremeño Giant") and the other is the skeleton of a French farmer from the Spanish War of Independence. Both were donated by Pedro González de Velasco.
In addition, one can appreciate the use of other materials such as cardboard, different types of anatomical sheets, mummified or artificial anatomical body parts, and various other anatomical models that facilitate the study of the human body.
The Museum of Anatomy belongs to the Faculty of Medicine of the Complutense University. It originated at the Royal College of Surgery of San Carlos, created by Carlos III in 1787. The museum’s first Director was Antonio de Gimbernat, although most of the wax polychrome sculpture collections were created under the management of its second director, Ignacio Lacaba.
However, it was not until Pedro Gonzalez de Velasco became Director (1857) that the museum reached its splendour. Even with the contributions of other important people (Julián Calleja, Federico Olóriz, Julián de la Villa, Pedro Ara, Daniel Mezquita, Gómez Oliveros, Orts Llorca) the museum eventually was neglected, and would have been closed if not for the great efforts of the last Director, Professor Puerta Fonollá, who passed away recently.