The spatial rhetoric of Gustav Zeiller’s popular anatomical museum
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Universidad de Granada
Material culture studiesHistory of emotionsPopular anatomical museumGustav ZeillerNineteenth-century Germany
Fakiner, N. «The Spatial Rhetoric of Gustav Zeiller’s Popular Anatomical Museum». Dynamis: Acta Hispanica Ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam, Vol. 36, Núm. 1, 1, p. 47-72.
SponsorshipCultural History of Wellbeing (HUM FFI2013-46361-R)
This article focuses on the public experience of science by studying the exhibition practice of a small popular anatomy museum. The owner, Gustav Zeiller, a little-known German model maker and entrepreneur, opened his private collection in Dresden in 1888 with the aim of providing experts and laymen alike with a scientific education on bodily matters and health care. The spatial configuration of his museum environment turned the wax models into didactic instruments. Relying on the possible connexion between material culture studies and history of the emotions, this article highlights how Zeiller choreographed the encounter between the museum objects and its visitors. I argue that the spatial set up of his museum objects entailed rhetorical choices that did not simply address the social utility of his museum. Moreover, it fulfilled the aim of modifying the emotional disposition of his intended spectatorship. I hope to show that studying the emotional responses toward artefacts can offer a fruitful approach to examine the public experience of medicine.