"My Favorite Museum Exhibit" is a series of posts aimed at giving BoingBoing readers a chance to show off their favorite exhibits and specimens, preferably from museums that might go overlooked in the tourism pantheon. I'll be featuring posts in this series all week. Want to see them all? Check out the archive post. I'll update the full list there every morning.
This is Romantic in the classical sense, although they're also kind of romantic in the aesthetic sense, as well. These anatomy models, made from wax, were used to teach 18th-century Italian med students all about the human body. There are full-body models, and detailed models of specific parts. Several of full-body models wear wigs, and most are set in states of cool repose, looking as though they're waiting for a lover to climb up a ladder to their window. It's kind of all the awesomeness of the plastinated bodies exhibits that are popular today, without having to worry about whether the body you're looking at once belonged to a Chinese political prisoner.
You can find the models in La Specola, the Museum of Zoology and Natural History in Florence. Darren Milligan took this photo and has a whole gallery of other great shots on Flickr that you should really check out. Besides these lady models, there's also a flayed man, and a disembodied face peeled back to the eyeball.
EDIT: Pesco points out that guest-blogger Mark Dery did a whole a feature on these models for us back in 2009. Go check it out! There's lots more photos and cool history.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.