Paris - Ile De France Section

Musee Dupuytren - Museum of Anatomical Pathology

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Musee Dupuytren, a museum with a difference

The Musee Dupuytren was founded thanks to Dr. Guillaume Dupuytren.

The anatomist, professor of surgery and personal physician of Louis XVIII died in 1835.

On his will, he bequeathed a little fortune to the Faculty of Medicine of Paris.

The faculty is located in the Couvent des Cordeliers, a religious establishment that became national property at the Revolution.

It is today a listed Historical Monument.

The dean of the faculty used the donation in order to found a museum of anatomical pathology in the convent's refectory.

The collections increased from about 1000 specimens at the time of its creation to over 6000 in less than 40 years!

These collections included specialised surgical instruments, skeletons, jars containing malformed human organs and foetuses, prints, paintings and drawings illustrating human malformations or anatomical abnormalities resulting from specific pathologies.

Museum Dupuytren - closed from 1937 to 1967

The museum was closed in 1937 due to obsolescence.

All the exhibits were packed and forgotten in the dark basement of the Faculty of Medicine.

Sadly, some were even destroyed due to lack of storage space.

It was not until 1967 that the museum reopened in a disused pavilion of the Faculty of Medicine.

The initial collections include the remains of the Royal College of Surgeons’ collections with some wax specimens from the late 18th century.

These unusual collections were enlarged with wax anatomical models and pieces illustrating various diseases and malformations.

A specialist library was also founded.

The Musee Dupuytren is truly humbling as you walk among the display cabinets full of unusual specimen of mishaps of nature.

Wax specimen in Musee Dupuytren

A humbling place!

You'll discover malformed skeletons, jars with two-headed animal embryos, double-headed brains, cyclops and horribly disfigured individuals…

Most of these malformations have virtually disappeared in the Western world.

Sadly, some are still common in some developing countries.

You can’t help but feel pity for all of these deformed beings.

You get shivers down your spine at the sight of such misery.

Most specimens are stored in jars in a special fixative.

Among these you'll discover the brain of the patient that allowed Dr. Paul Broca to prove the link between lesions and aphasia and therefore establish the first mapping of the brain.

The Musee Dupuytren is certainly not the ‘house of horrors’, as so many think!

It's an unusual museum that should be visited with respect for all these creatures, humans and animals, who had the misfortune of being born ‘different’.

This is certainly not a museum for impressionable people or young children who wouldn’t be able to understand the scope of these collections.

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 2pm-5pm
N.B. Photos not allowed

Directions: 6th district - Centre des Cordeliers - 15 Rue de l'Ecole de Médecine - to your right towards the cloisters as your enter the main courtyard
Metro: Odeon or Cluny-La Sorbonne on Line 10
Coordinates: Lat 48.850775 - Long 2.341153

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