Museum Vrolik

The main reason I went to Amsterdam was not to visit the ladies of scarlet or smoke the local horticulture but to see the world famous Museum Vrolik. An overnight sleep on the ferry from Harwich, Essex was enough to ready me for the short drive from the port to the medical centre on the outskirts of the city. Once the labyrinth of clinical corridors had been negotiated centuries of specimens welcomed me just as it had thousands of doctors and medical students previously.

One of the most important scientist in Dutch history, professor of anatomy Gerardus Vrolik (1775-1859) started what is now the museum with a private collection of embryos and specimens of clinical curiosity. Following in his father’s footsteps Willem Vrolik (1801-1863) became a professor of anatomy, physiology and zoology in Amsterdam and continued to add to the collection. A group of Dutch citizens linked with The Athenaeum Illustre of Amsterdam acquired the entire collection after Willem’s death though it took over a century for only a selection to be put on display in what is now known as Museum Vrolik. Other specimens have been added to the collection since it’s origin with the most recent being in 1994.

In 2012 the museum received a major overhaul separating the specimens into logical groups and bringing out some of the lesser seen curiosities. Still showing as pride of place is Hovius’ Cabinet that dates back to 1773, Jacob Hovius allowed the museum to take over his collection upon his death providing they build a cabinet worthy of the specimens. As there is no photography allowed within the museum those I’ve taken are of those on public display.

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