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7 unusual medical museums

By: Matt Hickman on Oct. 14, 2011, 9 a.m.
display cases of wax models

Photo: Moulagenmuseum

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Location: Zurich, Switzerland

Specialty: Wax models of diseased flesh

Gift shop grotesquerie: A Moulagenmuseum catalog — a great addition to any “feel better soon” gift basket or as a token of appreciation to the dermatologist in your life.

While Zurich’s Moulagenmuseum is indeed a wax museum, it’s much more mad scientist than Madame Tussauds, so don’t expect replicas of Zac Efron or Queen Elizabeth to greet you at the door … just disfigured appendages covered with boils. Along with Le Musée des Moulages in Paris, Moulangenmuseum hosts one of the world’s most extensive collections of 3-D wax body parts, specifically 3-D wax body parts ravaged by disfiguring flesh diseases (think leprosy, syphilis, athlete’s foot and assorted rashes). Not exactly a delightful way to spend the afternoon — we recommend smuggling in a tube of cortisone cream in case you get the itches — but a fascinating, albeit stomach-churning, look back at how skin diseases were documented prior to the advent of color photography.