The Anatomical Collection
The anatomical collection comes from the former Department of Anatomy in Uppsala and contains human mounted skeletons, skulls, pelvises, loose skeletal parts and mounted anatomical preparations. In addition, there are plaster copies of skulls, so-called death masks in plaster and other mounted anatomical specimens. There is also a small number of animal bones.
The anatomical collection was donated to Gustavianum from the Department of Medical Cell Biology in 2009 and from The Swedish History Museum, which had housed parts of the same collection, in 2011. Wet preparations that were part of the collection have been transferred from Gustavianum to Uppsala University’s Museum of Evolution.
Human remains, animal bones and plaster casts were collected by the Department of Anatomy from the mid-19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. The material came mainly from archaeological excavations in Sweden (including the area around Uppsala Cathedral), from dissections in Uppsala and the Stockholm area, from purchases and donations from private individuals, and from various expeditions, including the Vanadis Expedition (1883-1885).
The collected human material was numbered and registered in a catalogue before being used in anatomy teaching (including teaching by dissection). Some parts of the collection were also exhibited, probably initially in Sweden's first teaching hospital, known as Nosocomium Academicum, where Carl Linnaeus became professor of practical medicine in 1741. In 1850, the exhibits were moved to new premises in Uppsala, on Trädgårdsgatan, where an anatomical museum occupied much of the upper floor. During this period, anatomists engaged in the systematic collection, research and exhibition of human remains.
A small portion of the collection consists of human remains from indigenous peoples (from Sweden and other parts of the world), as well as a few skulls and skeletons from other countries.
Much of the surviving anatomical collection managed by Gustavianum either lacks a registration number or has an illegible one, meaning that the material cannot be identified via the Department of Anatomy’s catalogue, which records the provenance of collected material.
Previous repatriations: Repatriations of anatomical material from Uppsala were made to Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, in 2015 (three skulls from Uppsala, repatriated along with seven skulls from the collection of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm) and to Lycksele, Sweden, in 2020 (one skull from the former anatomical collection in Uppsala, more recently housed at The Swedish History Museum).