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7 unusual medical museums

By: Matt Hickman on Oct. 14, 2011, 9 a.m.
L'homme à la mandibule (cadaver holding mandible)

Photo: Musée Fragonard

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Musée Fragonard

Location: Maisons-Alfort, France

Specialty: Birth defects and beyond nightmarish écorchés (flayed figures)

Gift shop grotesquerie: None that we know of, but how can you resist a coffee table book filled with flayed cadavers?

Louvre schmouvre: Gallic gallery-goers looking for something a bit more, errr, grisly than the Mona Lisa have long made the trek to the Paris suburb of Maisons-Alfort to wander the halls of Musée Fragonard, located at one of the world’s oldest veterinary schools, The École Nationale Vétérinaire de Maisons-Alfort. Divided into four rooms, the Musée Fragonard displays a decent, ahem, number of anatomical oddities, including a two-headed calf, a 10-legged sheep and a one-eyed colt. However, the pièces de résistance are the super rare 18th century écorchés created by anatomist and accused “madman” Honoré Fragonard (not to be confused with his decidedly more mainstream cousin, the painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard). Working with real preserved human and animal cadavers instead of wax and ceramics like his contemporaries, 21 of Fragonard’s frightening flayed figures are on display at his namesake museum, including the Horseman of the Apocalypse surrounded by human fetuses riding sheep and horse fetuses and three human fetuses dancing a jig.