Tuesday, April 8, 2008
In addition to spectacular vegetable stands, just as in Lucerne and in Denmark, there is a great little museum in Bologna. It is of a very old world type: dimly lit, with finely carved display cases, a minimum of signage and a slightly odd combination of displays. The first few pictures are of some of the mineralogical and zoological exhibits, which were all put together without much apparent scientific order. The displays seemed more aesthetically arranged than anything else, with taxidermied fish placed next to large birds eggs and lumpy, otherworldly rock formations.It reminds one that the hard sciences of biological and geological toxonomy really do have their roots in the much softer impulse of the wealthy, globe trotting collector of cool stuff in the 18th and 19th century.
The second room was full of wax and ceramic anatomical models. First was a large number of models of babies in the womb, showing things as they were supposed to go and showing a large and extremely disturbing number of pathological contingencies, clearly for use in the educatation of delivery personnel. The worst ones really were so horrifying that I could barely look at them let alone photograph them. Second were more general anatomical models.
Lastly, there were a number of very curious wooden constructions that reminded me of sculpture by Louise Nevelson or Lee Bontecou. Poking around for an explanation it became clear that they were models of fortifications for small cities, presumably in the late middle ages or rennaissance era. There were a couple of more literal architectural models, but the wooden structures were great works of art in and of themselves.