RSU Anatomy Museum Celebrates First Birthday
Exactly one year ago, on 16 June 2021, the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) Anatomy Museum first opened its doors to visitors.
RSU Rector, Prof. Aigars Pētersons, and the Head of the RSU Anatomy Museum, Asst. Prof. Ieva Lībiete, at the grand opening of the museum on 16 June 2021
Over the course of this year, the museum has become a well-known attraction among both locals and visitors - 12,732 people have visited the museum so far. The Anatomy Museum has successfully positioned itself in the public sphere as a scientific and creative place for education and a cultural space that offers something unique.
During the year, the museum organised more than 20 public lectures and events, hosted several scientific and cultural events, and welcomed RSU students, guests, and cooperation partners as visitors.
From 24 to 28 August, the 47th Congress of the International Society for the History of Medicine took place at the museum. More than 600 people attended, both in-person and remotely from all over the world.
On 25 August 2021, the Museum hosted Anatomy & Beyond, a symposium on the interaction between medicine and art where artists, anatomists, scientists, and doctors discussed how art and anatomy picture the future of humanity on Earth and beyond. Didzis Gavars supported the symposium in the research of future anatomy. The symposium was followed by an exhibition that integrated seven works of medical art into the museum’s exhibition.
On 2 February 2022, we celebrated the 102nd anniversary of the first anatomy lecture by listening to a lecture by Uldis Zariņš, a sculptor, a lecturer at the Art Academy of Latvia, and the founder of Anatomy Next. He spoke on écorché – a painting or sculpture of the human figure with the skin removed. Our museum's exposition also contains an écorché. The scanned 3D model of it is available on Anatomy for Sculptors.
On 8 April, the International Short Film Festival 2ANNAS opened at the museum, bringing together around 80 representatives of both the Latvian and the international film industry. The festival also included two well-attended screenings of short films on artificial intelligence and transhumanism.
For the first time in the history of the Anatomy Museum, the museum was open to the public on Museum Night 2022
Despite the rain and a queue that stretched across the Riga Canal all the way down to Muitas iela, 1,397 people visited the museum on Museum Night. The evening ended with a performance by composer Platons Buravickis of his piece Iekšējo pasauļu tīrumos (In the Fields of Inner Worlds), which was composed specially for the event.
The museum’s collection was originally created for medical students. This year, when developing the museum’s education programmes, the museum’s staff made the collection more accessible through different creative activities. Both schoolchildren and adults interested in exploring the “inner workings” of our bodies in a different way were welcome to attend classes at the museum!
Several anatomy embroidery classes were held with artist Elīza Māra. The workshop's participants learned about anatomy “through the eye of a needle” and created their own original work with stitching and beads.
To add more colour to students’ daily lives during distance learning, two anatomy drawing activities were developed. Drawing classes have become the most popular activity that the museum offers, and not only for schoolchildren, but also for adults.
First on-site drawing lesson
Both activities are included in the Latvijas skolas soma (Latvian School Bag) cultural education programme and are free of charge for Latvian schoolchildren. This year, 1,376 schoolchildren took part in remote drawing lessons, and the first in-person classes have now been held!
These classes are a great way to learn about anatomy while indulging in the meditative and calming process of drawing. They are also suitable for those who feel that they have two left hands!
The museum does not only hold anatomical specimens, but also thousands of documents and photographic evidence. To make this material more accessible to researchers, the museum launched two major digitisation projects.
Within the ERDF project Digitisation of Cultural Heritage, 950 glass photographic plates made at the Institute of Anatomy in the 1920s have been digitised.
With the support of Roche Latvia, 10,065 anthropological questionnaires collected during expeditions in Latvia in the 1920s–1930s have been digitised. The questionnaires did not only record people's physical characteristics, but also their occupation, education level, marital status, data on their parents and grandparents lives, and cause of death. The questionnaires are available for research purposes upon request.
This year, the museum received a gift from anatomist and anatomy historian Oscar Baldomero. He is the curator of the Prof. Arthur von Hochstetter historic collection that is kept in Basel. Baldomero gave the museum 35 of the most unique specimens from the collection dating from the 18th to the early 20th century. This new part of the exhibition will be open to visitors in 2023.
Legendary collection in a contemporary format
In May, the museum’s staff went to Jēkabpils to receive the Latvian Museum Association’s annual award in one of 12 categories. The jury dedicated the following message to the museum:
‘The story of the unique and legendary collection of the RSU Anatomy Museum is presented in a contemporary language, giving visitors the opportunity to be amazed, horrified, and reliably informed about the fascinating human body.
It is an outstanding exhibition in terms of contents and format, creating a new concept for closed collections. It is aesthetically appealing and generates interest for all age groups.’
The RSU Anatomy Museum’s staff and friends at the presentation of the Latvian Museum Association's annual award
On 17 August, a new exhibition will open at the Anatomy Museum - an intervention by artist Paddy Hartley.
Known as both for creating a sculpture worn by Lady Gaga as well as for being a a passionate World War I artefact researcher, British ceramicist Hartley’s themes of trenches, trauma, and the destruction of war are poignantly relevant today.
Hartley has created a series of ceramic works, Foetal Attraction, specifically for the Anatomy Museum. The exhibition will be open until 26 January.
Paddy Hartley’s Foetruvian Man
See you at the museum!