Delmas-Orfila-Rouvière Anatomy Museum

Musée d'Anatomie Delmas-Orfila-Rouvière

45, rue des Saints-Pères, Paris, 75006
Admission: Free

Opening Times

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: Closed
Friday: Closed
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed
The Museum is closed until further notice.
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Pictures / Tags
Map / Location
Transport Info
Pictures / Tags
Ecorché by Honoré Fragonard
Main Photo

Map / Location
Transport Info

Transport Info

Tube : St Germain des près (4), Rue du bac (6).

This museum won't be for everybody's taste but it's a must if you are looking for something original and quirky with a vivid interest in Science and Medicine.

The Musée d'Anatomie Delmas-Orfila-Rouvière is the largest anatomy museum in France. It was created in 1794 by artist Honoré Fragonard. At that time Fragonard was demonstrator and professor of anatomy and one of its task was to collect specimens for the Faculty of Medicine of Paris's new anatomical cabinet. Before that, Paris only had only amateur collections of its kind. The biggest collection was formed of 1000 wax anatomical models bequeathed by Jean-Baptiste Sue for the École des Beaux-Arts. Later on, these earlier collections were dispersed during the French Revolution.

The cabinet's anatomical collection was reorganized and vigorously expanded by Mathieu Orfila. Orfila was appointed dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris in 1832 and because he had visited the Hunterian Museum he wanted to reproduce a collections of comparative anatomy. In 1844 he established a museum, which in 1847 was formally inaugurated and named the Musée Orfila in his honor. In a few decate the museum has gained nearly 4500 items, as documented in the catalog published by its curator, Charles Nicolas Houel. Unfortunately, during the early 20th century, the museum fell into great disrepair.

It was only until 1947, than Prof. André Delmas began an effort to restore and greatly enlarge the Musée Orfila, conjoining it with the Musée Rouvière, the lymphatic collection of Prof. Henri Rouvière (1876-1952). Since 1953 the museum has occupied the vast exhibition halls and galleries of the eighth floor of the Faculty of Medicine.

Today's museum contains about 5,800 human and animal anatomical items. It contains a wide range of anatomical specimens, including a small monkey preserved by Fragonard in 1797; Paul Broca's castings brains of birds, mammals, and humans, including the brains of children, criminals, and representatives of various races, as well as his own brain; showcases of comparative anatomy of reptiles and birds; casts of the heads of criminals executed during the 19th century; a collection of skulls from asylums for the mentally ill; major exhibits of different stages of growth of the skeleton, splanchnology (casts of livers, hearts, lungs, and trachea), and of the viscera and major vessels of the human body; and displays of malformations of the brain caused in rats (Giroud-Delmas), lymph systems (Marie Philibert Constant Sappey), kidney structure (Augier), trachea (Eralp), esophagus (Sussini), and liver. It also includes the Spitzner collection, a famous set of anatomical wax models dating from the 19th Century.

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