Skip to main content

The Medicine Chest


Site The Medicine Chest
Is Part Of is exactly Division of Clinical Anatomy and Biological Anthropology
Advanced search
  • The workshop

    "Held in the Department of Human Biology in the Division of Clinical Anatomy and Biological Anthropology, this collection consists of prepared specimens – both bottled and plastinated, anatomical models – and a skeletal repository used for research purposes. The materials are kept in three separate rooms, with the anatomical models in one, the prepared and plastinated specimens in another and the skeleton repository in its own room behind locked doors, viewable by appointment only. The room housing the anatomical models functioned as a workshop when modelmaking was still offered to first year medical students as an elective course: its walls are lined with shelves that display models made from materials ranging from papier-mâché to modern silicon copies and are taxonomised according to their anatomical representations, such as ‘the eye’, ‘head & neck’, ‘dentistry’, ‘embryology’, ‘lungs’ and ‘cardiovascular system’, to name a few. The models represent each anatomical section and are brightly coloured to differentiate the different parts of the human body and aid in identification. Many of the models can be dismantled into separate pieces and, like a puzzle, be reassembled into their original shapes. Interspersed with these models are rolled-up charts depicting organs, bodily systems and anatomical sections of the body in two-dimensional form, as well as old student modelling projects. A selection of animal skeletons is displayed on the far side of the room, and a shelf with a few anatomical specimens in formaldehyde is across from it" (Liebenberg 2021: 121 - 122).
  • 'Villus of the small intestine wall'

    A student model of the ‘Villus of the small intestine wall’ found in the workshop of the Anatomy Building, UCT.
  • Page 65 of the Curiosity CLXXV catalogue

    Page 65 of the 'Curiosity CLXXV' catalogue, showing the Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre (currently part of the Centre for Curating the Archive).
  • Page 79 of the Curiosity CLXXV catalogue.

    "Created by Felix von Luschan, an Austrian doctor, anthropologist, explorer, archaeologist and ethnographer in the early 20th century, the chart, known as the Von Luschan chromatic scale (...) was used to classify skin colour and featured as a tool in race studies and anthropometry of the time. Forgotten by its current department staff and students, its presence draws attention to the role of medicine and science in the apartheid agenda and to the larger racist scientific practices of measuring and classifying human physical differences in the 19th and 20th centuries to produce a ‘typology of race’ (Sturken & Cartwright 2018: 351–352). To support such theories, object collections in scientific university departments worldwide also featured collections of human remains; tools for measuring the size and shape of skulls; and charts detailing various physiognomic features (Sturken & Cartwright 2018: 351 – 352)" (Liebenberg 2021: 122 - 125).
  • Seeing

    Educational models found in the Anatomy workshop: "Borrowing from Herbert Read’s art historical discussion on looking, Digby posits that the biomedical practitioner’s generally critical attitudes were shaped in part by their limited recognition of indigenous medicine during this period – ‘what we see is inseparable from how we see; the eye is not innocent, and vision is partial’ (Digby 2006: 356) and, quoting Read, ‘we see what we learn to see, and vision becomes a habit, a convention, a partial selection of all there is to see’ (in Digby 2006: 356). Accordingly, Digby argues that the Western practitioners would have had, at best, only a partial view of the different medical systems in South Africa during this period (Digby 2006: 357) and probably only to the extent that it was a threat to their own livelihood and authority – as evidenced in the 1928 Medical, Dental and Pharmacy Act that Floyd helped instate" (Liebenberg 2021: 55).
Powered by Omeka S