The face behind the showcase looks tense, painful. On the flushed cheeks of the woman, crusty brownish to draw bubbles. On the left nose wing, a red shiny ulcer is rampant. The right one is eaten away half of it. That face looks like it was attacked by tuberculosis of the Skin. The wax model is one of 600 casts, which are exhibited here in the moulages Museum in Zurich’s University quarter.

“according to The Zurich-based recipe produced moulages are incredibly well preserved, especially the colours,” says the Curator and conservator Sabina Carraro. Together with the dermatologist, and the Museum’s curator, Michael Geiges, care for over ten years, the fascinating real-looking replicas of diseased parts of the body. The three-dimensional models in life size are made of a special resin-wax mixture. This is poured over a plaster negative, which has been previously removed from the sick body of the patient. The resulting wax impression is the so-called Moulageuse nature-painted true to life and provided him with the hair and other Details such as bubbles, scales and crusts. As a model of the Patient served.

an Important teaching tool

in The Museum are objects mainly show skin and venereal diseases. Over 2000 pieces includes the Zurich collection. Because at the beginning of the 20th century. Century were casts of the most important teaching materials of dermatology and venerology of the teaching of sexually transmitted diseases. Which is why the Dermatological clinic of Zurich increased shortly after its founding in 1916, a collection, and specifically a Moulageuse from Germany did, in order for this disease from the clinic into the wax held firmly.

“In a time without Google, let alone color photos of the casts were for the students Central to the disease pictures skin and get to know changes,” says dermatologist and medical historian Michael Geiges. So you were able to study the different appearances, even when no patients were available. Because at this time, patient demonstrations during the lecture quite common. Bruno Bloch, the first chief dermatologist of the Zurich clinic, had set up the lecture hall even extra so that the patient ranks well by the Bank, a fit and each of the students individually presented could be. This was not possible, the scale casts the perfect replacement.

enlightenment by means of shock

moulages were not but merely a teaching tool for the students, but were also ideal for the popular communication of knowledge – for example about sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases. Because these were the beginning of the 20th century. Century, the focus of the company and of the public debate. “It was a big Problem, but it’s schematically very drama”, evaluated medical historian Geiges the Situation. Around 1920, Switzerland, said the venereal diseases as a folk illness, and they tried to inform the population with its numerous awareness campaigns. In the centre of the efforts, the “lust disease” of known Syphilis status. To the so-called hygiene exhibitions, the Hyper should be realistic moulages of diseased sex parts of the visitors to shock and to move so a change in their behavior. “Whether that has much effect is questionable. But to was a time was allowed to the public hardly any skin show, the rush to these exhibitions in any case, huge. It’s Sex and Crime was in the 20th century. Century,” said Geiges.

by the Way, Switzerland is seen today rising Syphilis. According to a recent statistics of the Federal office for health (BAG) has doubled the number of reported diseases in the last ten years, with around 800 cases in the year 2018, almost. However, modern prevention campaigns are less focused on fear and terror. Earlier, however, moulages were even used as a means of propaganda. For example, the chief doctor Bruno took advantage of the creepy Bloch wax models, in order to convince the people of Zurich from the construction of a new clinic. In the run-up to the cantonal referendum to permit the construction cost Bloch lectures, held in the city and in the country, to be brought which he casts in order to demonstrate the suffering of his patients in a gruesome way. On 2. In April of 1922, the construction of the people has been approved, and Bruno Bloch was convinced that the casts had significantly contributed.


With the beginning of the 1950s, and the improvement in color photography and the great Era of the wax moulages ended, however. They were considered outdated, obsolete and in comparison to Diabildern – as bulky and space-consuming. Moreover, they were much more time-consuming. Accordingly, many collections ended up rooms in the basement. “In many places, they were melted down even. In Berlin there is, therefore, hardly any historical moulages,” says restorer Carraro. In 1973, the Zurich moulages were finally to perish. “Throw it all away or melted down,” was the order of the appropriate chief physician, writes the time at the Dermatological clinic active Moulageuse Elsbeth Stoiber in their timeline, a kind of experience report about your time in Zurich. The rescue operation was chaotic: “First of all, the fitted recessed cupboards to the passage, without prior discussion or notice to be dismantled. I found in the morning, the casts scattered lying on the floor, in a corner piled up.” And a few days later it is called: “Until I was able to mobilize friends, the car, the moulages in the private, commercial trucks and horse vans, are temporarily brought to safety, had already destroyed about 80 casts or were missing.”


The resolute engagement of Mrs. Stoiber, is it possible for the Zurich moulages still exist today and the students back to the preparation for the state examination, and serve. The recovered casts all came back again, but were exiled first of all, in the basement. First, an exhibition in the medical-historical Institute, initiated in 1979, the Renaissance of the creepy works of art. The moulages, sparked a lot of interest and came from there more and more often, at exhibitions, allowing the University of Zurich knew their didactic value. The rediscovery culminated in the 1993 opening of the Museum space in the historic models are exhibited wax today.

The casts insight into the research at the Dermatological clinic at the beginning of the 20th century. Century. Until the 1950s, the researchers held in Zurich, important findings from animal tests, Self-experiments or experiments on more-or-less volunteers by means of the moulages technology. In addition, you document the disease that there is today hardly. For example, stages of Syphilis, smallpox or Late. With the discovery of penicillin, one sees advanced Syphilis today hardly. And smallpox have applied since 1979 as eradicated. The casts remind also to the medical advances of the last century.

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