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“La Specola” 
Museum of Natural History 
Florence, Italy

“La Specola,” named after its observatory, is one of the oldest scientific museums in the world. Founded in Florence in 1775 by Grand Duke Peter Leopold, it contains collections dating back to the Medicis. While the museum has an impressive collection of zoological specimens, it is most famous for its collection of wax models of human anatomy that were created in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Gordon’s interest in the history of medicine and anatomy led her to visit La Specola in 2010, and this was the impetus and inspiration for her “Embodiments” exhibition in 2012/2013. While visiting the museum, Gordon photographed details of La Specola’s building and its surrounds as well as examples from its collections. The following slide show juxtaposes these architectural details with images of the museum’s specimens. Please note that many of the photographs of specimens were supplied by La Specola, and that all photographs are copyrighted and cannot be used without the permission of La Specola and/or Janice Gordon.

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