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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

12 - Anatomy Theaters, Botanical Gardens, and Natural History Collections

from Part II - Personae and Sites of Natural Knowledge
The anatomy theater, the botanical garden, and the natural history museum were all a direct result of the medical fascination with experience in the early sixteenth century. In the ancient university towns of Italy, however, principally Padua and Bologna, a new commitment to the place of anatomy in medical education led to the building of anatomical theaters that exist to this day. With the exception of surgeon's theaters, which had a more narrowly professional function, most anatomy theaters appeared in tandem with university botanical gardens. Although the botanical garden did not precede the permanent anatomy theater, it more quickly became part of the institutional culture of science in Renaissance Europe. Many university gardens were part of a research and teaching complex that housed an anatomy theater and various scientific collections accumulated by the medical faculty. Visitors to anatomy theaters, botanical gardens, private collections, and princely treasuries were already accustomed to looking at curiosities as part of observing nature.
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