Visual Dissection: The Art of Anatomy

About the Exhibition

Dates: 4th December 2015 - 5th March 2016
Where: Exhibition Gallery, Main Library, George Square
Curated by: Douglas Stevens (Employ.ed on Campus Exhibitions Intern)

Building up teaches more than tearing apart, joining together more than separating, animating what is dead more than killing over again what has already been killed.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)

Art and Anatomy are often treated as distinct subjects, yet there is a long history of collaboration between the disciplines. This exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to explore examples of this rich exchange of expertise. Through illustrations, models and virtual technologies, the close relationship between visual art and the science of anatomy will be revealed.

From the sixteenth century, artists have been employed to work alongside anatomists to create visual representations of their research. The development of anatomical models required specific technical knowledge. Whilst some models were built by specialised craftspeople working with traditional techniques, others were mass produced and readily available to buy through trade catalogues. Despite the arrival of new materials like plastic in the twentieth century, older materials like wax were ideally suited for model making and continued to be used.

Today, technology continues to advance and new forms of anatomical representation are being created. Three-dimensional scanning and printing have enabled anatomists to produce bespoke models both quickly and cheaply, and animated holograms encourage new ways to visualise anatomy.

Many of the objects in this exhibition are from the collections of the University of Edinburgh Anatomical Museum and have never been on public display before.