Unusual Zurich Museum of Disfiguring Diseases


skin disease

Feast your eyes on realistic representations of diseased body parts. These are the medically accurate recreations of how the worse possible diseases manifest themselves on our bodies. See scar covered backs, blistered feet, swollen faces and pus oozing sores. Cancer, leprosy, syphilis and more are shown in plastic or wax  recreations. Models such as these were used to train doctors prior to the invention of photography. Artists specializing in medical representations would create faithful copies of the visible signs of a disease.

The art of making realistic mock injuries on life-like wax figures for medical study is called Moulage (or casting or moulding). The models are life-size and made using a plaster or silicone cast negative, then the actual model is made from a wax-resin mix. This unique artistic skill was first introduced to Zurich in 1918 by Lotte Volger but has been around since the Renaissance. The craft has been handed down from generation to generation and medical Moulage is still used today as they give students a more realistic impression of the diseases than photographs or slides ever could. There are about 600 models on display in the museum at any one time but the entire collection includes about 2,000 models.

skin sore

These models have been used to teach medical students and aid in medical research. The 3D replicas of deformed and disfigured body parts are still a valuable tool today and although they may be enhanced by modern technology they are an irreplaceable asset to medical research and teaching. This subject is explored in their current exhibition: Wax or Pixels?

Where: Moulage Museum, Haldenbachstrasse 14, 8091, Zurich

Contact: Tel – +41 44 255 56 85; Fax – +41 44 255 44 03

Open Hours: Wednesday 2pm-6pm; Saturday 1pm-5pm; on other weekdays by arrangement only.

Cost: Free

Getting there: Take Tram 9 or 10 to Haldenbach stop.

Web: Moulagen

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